July 18, 2024
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July 18, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Chapter 10 Summary: Feeling guilty about how much Ari’s doing, Yaffa decides to spend a week at her parents’ house and leave Shani in charge at home. Danny disapproves of Ilana’s desire to finish her Ph.D.


 

Yaffa parked in the driveway behind her father’s car and ran to the passenger side to help her mother out. Moriah trailed behind them as they walked toward the house.

“Dad seems to be doing so much better,” Gail said. It must have been her 10th time repeating that line since they’d left the rehab center; personally, Yaffa didn’t see much improvement at all. Her father was still having trouble talking, his speech was slurred, and he could barely string a basic sentence together. The speech therapist had explained that the lack of blood flow to the brain during his heart attack had affected his language and motor functioning, but she’d also assured them that his speech would improve with time.

Yaffa certainly hoped that was true, but at the moment, her mother seemed to be in dreamland about Dad’s state, and that worried her.

As her mother fished in her purse for the key, Yaffa asked casually, “Have you thought about what you’ll do once Dad gets home?”

“Hmm?” Gail drew out the key and opened the door. “When Dad gets home? What do you mean?”

“I mean, he’ll need help! Walking, moving around —”

“Nonsense.” Gail placed her purse on the table and headed into the kitchen. “People recover from heart attacks all the time. Look at Carol Miller’s husband. He’s back to playing tennis once a week. And remember Uncle Phil? He left the hospital and went straight back to his office.”

Yaffa narrowed her eyes.

“Now, girls,” Gail continued, “What should we make for dinner?”

“Ma, I’ll take care of dinner. You go rest.”

Gail turned to Yaffa, hesitating. “But you’re my guest.”

“Excuse me?” Yaffa folded her arms in mock offense. “I’m your daughter! Are you trying to make me a guest in my own home?”

“Well …” she glanced at Moriah, who nodded encouragingly. “Okay, I am a bit tired after the visit.”

As soon as she left the room, Yaffa pursed her lips. “She’s in fantasy land,” she muttered. “I need to talk to Ari about this.”

Moriah sat down at the kitchen table, propping her chin on her hands. “She gets tired very easily. I’ve been cooking dinner most nights since I’ve been here.”

Yaffa blinked, as if she’d forgotten Moriah’s presence. “Thanks, you’ve been a huge help.” She sighed. “And she thinks she’ll have the strength to take care of Grandpa as well. Now let’s see …” She began exploring the fridge.

“Need any help?” Moriah lifted her chin off her palm.

“No, sweetie, I’m fine. You can go relax, too.”

“I’m really happy to help, you know. That’s why I’m here.”

“That’s why I’m —” Yaffa stopped mid-sentence, as she noticed the frown on her niece’s face. What, are you in competition here for most valuable helper? For the first time, it occurred to her that Moriah might have felt displaced by Yaffa’s arrival.

“Come, let’s cook together,” she said. “As long as you promise not to tell Grandma certain things …”

As Moriah raised a mystified eyebrow, Yaffa placed a finger on her lips, then hurried to her bedroom. She came back carrying a bulky bag. “I brought my own pots,” she whispered. “Grandma and Grandpa’s aren’t toveled,” she explained.

“Oh.” A funny expression crossed Moriah’s face. “I didn’t realize.”

“Yeah, well, their generation, you know, they weren’t so aware of certain halachos.”

Moriah nodded. “Also this generation?”

“What do you mean?”

Moriah stood up and walked over to the counter. “I was hanging out with Eli and his friends last week. From the way they talk, it sounds like all teenagers here text on Shabbat.”

She picked up a potato and opened the drawer for a peeler. Yaffa quickly handed her one from her bag.

“Not all teenagers,” she said. “Definitely not. But, yeah, it’s a problem in some places …”

“And there’s another thing I can never understand.” Moriah’s eyes suddenly flashed. “Aren’t people in America aware of the mitzvah of Yishuv Haaretz? I mean people like you who are so careful about Halacha.”

Oooh, Ouch. Yaffa almost dropped her toveled frying pan. “Um … yeah, good question.” She coughed. “But for some people, their avodah is to be here in the U.S. If that’s where they learn better, or are better able to serve Hashem, or —”

She felt herself squirming under Moriah’s raised eyebrows and had a momentary urge to throw out a snide comeback line about how “when you grow up and experience more of the world, you’ll learn not to be so judgmental.” But just as quickly, the urge went away… because the voice that was snapping out the line in her head wasn’t her own. And she knew exactly whose it was, as she was suddenly overpowered with a strong sense of déjà vu.

Another teenager, long ago, standing in this same kitchen … She laughed aloud.

Moriah stared at her in surprise. “What?”

“Nothing.” Yaffa smiled as she pulled a pack of chicken cutlets out of the freezer. “Just … you remind me of myself at your age.”

Why Ilana should have ended up with the idealistic, passionate daughter, while Yaffa’s was busy shopping at the mall and pursuing her aspirations as a makeup artist … she wouldn’t allow herself to ask.

***

“Ari, we need to talk now.”

Ari closed his eyes. It was nice that Yaffa had taken over parent coverage for the week, but why did it have to come with intense nightly powwows deconstructing every statement of their mother?

“Can it wait until tomorrow? I had a long day at work and I’m pretty wiped.”

Yaffa’s breath came out heavily on the phone. “Sure, it can wait, no problem. All I wanted to say was —”

Ari rubbed his forehead. Apparently, it wasn’t going to wait.

“— that I’m getting more and more concerned about what’s going to happen once Dad comes home. They’re talking about releasing him already at the end of next week. And Mom seems to think that by that time he’ll be sprinting into the house, as good as new!”

“I don’t think she really thinks that,” he said. “She’s not an idiot, she can see what he’s like.”

“She was talking about Uncle Phil! She doesn’t seem to realize that Uncle Phil had, like, a bad case of heartburn, while Dad was in serious cardiac arrest!”

Ari lay down on the couch. He’d been putting in overtime at the office, to make up for last week. Plus, Debbie had discovered the investment statement from the other day (stupid of him not to take it out of his pants pocket before throwing them in the laundry) and dinner had been an unpleasant affair. “Can’t we talk about this in private?” he’d muttered. But Debbie had insisted that it was important for the kids to learn about the right and wrong way to go about investing.

“So what do you want to do about it?” he mumbled now.

“I already told you I’ve been looking into aides. But they cost money and it’s not so clear their insurance will cover it. I have no idea what their finances are like. I tried asking Mom, and she keeps insisting they have plenty of money, but … well, I don’t know. I mean, you certainly don’t seem to think so.”

Ari’s eyes had been drifting closed, but now he opened them. “Me?”

“Yeah. Weren’t you the one who insisted we all had to split the cost of their anniversary vacation because they couldn’t afford to pay for it themselves?”

That wasn’t exactly what he’d said, but Ari wasn’t interested in getting into that discussion again.

“I have no idea what their finances are like,” he said. “I was just assuming … I mean, Dad’s a retired store manager and Mom was a housewife all her life. How much savings can they have?”

Yaffa harumphed. “That,” she said, “is exactly the question we need to find out.”


Ariella Aaron is an internationally published writer with a unique talent for writing stories that are entertaining and thought-provoking, with characters who are eminently relatable. A former resident of northern New Jersey, Ariella has now transplanted her family to Israel, where she is happily living the dream of raising her brood in our homeland.

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