May 25, 2024
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May 25, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Chapter 30 summary: Yaffa and Shani discuss what family Chesed project they’d like to take on. Debbie warns that the resentment everyone is suppressing now will only build over time. Ari agrees and reveals to his parents that the children discovered their will.


The ring of the phone startled Yaffa awake. She blinked at her bedside clock: 6:15 a.m. Who —? Heart hammering, she quickly picked up.

“Hello Yaffa, sorry for waking you.” Her mother’s voice sounded unnaturally stiff.

“Is everything okay?”

“I want to let you know that I’m in the hospital with Dad.”

Yaffa caught her breath. “Whaaat? What happened?”

Shmueli opened his eyes, flashing her a questioning look. She shook her head. “He had another incident last night with pain in his chest, so I called Hatzalah. But the doctors say he’s fine, it wasn’t a heart attack.”

Yaffa sat up in bed. “Last night? And you’re just calling now? Who went to the hospital with you? Ari?”

“No, no, we didn’t want to bother any of you. Marie came with us.”

Her mother was still speaking in that oddly formal voice; there was something strange going on.

“The doctors say he’s fine? But what was it, then? Indigestion? It had to be something!” Yaffa swung her feet off the bed. Her mother and Marie? Absurd! Dad needed an advocate in the hospital! What had Ma been thinking, not calling her or Ari?

“What hospital are you in? I’m coming over right now.”

“No, no, I don’t want to bother … They’ll probably be releasing him this morning.”

What hospital, Ma?

She hesitated for a fraction of a second. “Hackensack.”

“Okay. Don’t let him be discharged until I get there.” She stood up. “Have you already called Ari?”

There was a longer pause. “No. You can tell him if you want.”

There was unmistakable bitterness in her voice. Utterly baffled, Yaffa hung up and immediately dialed her brother.

“Listen Ari, Dad’s in the hospital,” she said as soon as he picked up. “He had some chest pains last night. And Mom’s acting really strange; she doesn’t seem to want us involved. Do you have any idea what’s going on?”

Ari’s voice was hoarse from sleep. “In the hospital? What?”

“Yes, he had chest pains last night, but the doctors say he’s fine.”

She heard him let out a loud breath. “Oh God, I hope it’s not because of —”

Yaffa pressed the phone to her ear. “Because of what? Will somebody fill me in, please?”

Ari sighed. “Yaf, I told them yesterday. About the will. And … they didn’t take it well.”

***

“While a lot of people tend to start their organizations informally first, testing the waters if you will, it’s best to set it up legally from the start. It avoids a lot of sticky situations later on.”

Ilana nodded, scribbling on her notepad. Ora was an NPO consultant recommended by a colleague of Danny’s; while Ilana still wasn’t sure if she was actually going through with this, she supposed that she owed it to herself and Moriah to at least research what such a project entailed.

“Now, to form an amuta in Israel, you need —”

Ilana’s phone buzzed. Glancing down, she saw Yaffa’s name pop up. She quickly silenced the call.

“Wait, I have a question,” she interrupted Ora. “What if I really do want to just test the waters first? Doesn’t it make sense to try it out and see if there’s even a demand for my organization before making it official and getting myself into all these accounting headaches?”

“Well, yes, you can certainly start with a trial period. But, of course, it can be a problem if you need to fundraise and can’t issue tax receipts.”

Her phone buzzed again. Annoyed, she silenced the phone once more. Didn’t Yaffa get the message that Ilana was busy?

“What were you saying? I can only collect donations as a registered nonprofit?”

Now a text popped up on her screen. Urgent Urgent Urgent need to spk!!!!!!!

Ilana blinked. “I’m sorry. It’s my sister in America.”

Ora waved her hand, and Ilana quickly left the room.

“Ilana! Baruch Hashem you called! Things are crazy here! I’m on my way to the hospital now; Dad was taken there last night. Mom says he’s okay, but you know Mom, even if Dad was eaten by a shark, she’d make herself believe everything’s peachy.”

“Eaten by a shark?” Ilana repeated, amused. “Yaf, are you sure you’re okay?”

“No, I’m not!” her sister practically shrieked. “Because you don’t know the half of it! Ari went and told Mom and Dad everything! That we know about their money, about their will — everything!”

“Oh. Wow. Without asking us first?”

“Nope! Completely unilateral decision! No, sorry, not unilateral. Debbie was certainly involved. In fact, I’m sure this was all from her!” Yaffa sounded beside herself.

Ilana stared out Noa’s window, watching a motorcycle whiz by. She wasn’t sure it was so terrible to have things out in the open, but it was quite unlike Ari. She had to agree that Debbie’s fingerprints were on this decision, and the thought that their sister-in-law should be pulling the strings in their family rankled.

“How did they react?”

“According to Ari, Mom was crying that we misunderstood, that’s not what the will said, and that clearly we don’t love them anymore after all they’ve done for us.”

Ilana winced, picturing the scene. “Could it be she’s right? That we did misunderstand?”

“Of course not,” Yaffa said coldly. “I read the will myself. It was clear as day. Maybe she’d misunderstood what was in the will. I have no idea. But Dad didn’t deny anything. Ari said he was sitting there, becoming more and more agitated and not able to get proper words out, until finally he shouted for Ari to leave.”

“And that night he went to the hospital,” Ilana concluded.

“Exactly.” From 5,000 miles away, Ilana heard Yaffa’s car horn blare as she muttered about incompetent drivers. Then she said, “If something happens to Dad right now, I’ll never forgive Ari and Debbie!”

***

To Ari’s surprise, Debbie said she wanted to come with him to the hospital. He wondered if she too was feeling torn apart by guilt. As it was, he’d barely been able to sleep last night; Yaffa’s early morning phone call had felt like the inevitable culmination of a bad dream.

He was silent as he drove down Route 4 and beside him, Debbie seemed contemplative as well. At last, they pulled into the hospital parking lot. Before they got out, Debbie put a hand on his elbow.

“You did the right thing,” she said. “Keeping feelings hidden, pretending … that’s the coward’s way out. It’s not healthy; it would’ve been terrible in the long run. You were the only one who had the courage to say what needed to be said.”

Ari swallowed. Despite his guilt, despite his misgivings and fear … something inside him felt released. It had been a long time since his wife had looked at him with such pride. He didn’t know if she was right, but he desperately hoped so.

When they got to his father’s room, he was shocked to find Yaffa already there. Had she run every red light from Lakewood? He gave her a tentative smile but she glared back at him.

Sighing, Ari turned his attention to his father. He was relieved to see Dad sitting up in bed, looking impatient but not particularly sick. Next to him, their mother was sitting and fussing nervously with her pocketbook. Both his parents gave him brief nods; unnerved by the chilly reception all around, he sat down in a hard plastic chair and took out his phone.

“Call Ilana.”

His father’s abrupt words made him jump.

“Excuse me, Dad?”

His father nodded at his phone. “Call – Ilana. I – want – to – tell – you – all – something.”

Ari glanced at Yaffa; she looked equally apprehensive. He felt the tension settling in the room as he FaceTimed his sister; a moment later, all three Taubman children were staring expectantly at their parents.

Larry glanced at Gail and closed his eyes. “You – talk. Too – difficult.”

Gail threw him a panicked look, then took a breath.

“Since you’ve all seen our will, Daddy and I wanted to take this opportunity to … explain.”


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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