June 13, 2024
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June 13, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Chapter 6 summary: Matan performs CPR on his grandfather and manages to keep him alive until the paramedics arrive. Yaffa regrets the money she wasted on the anniversary party and feels guilty that she wasn’t more helpful to her parents when it really counted.

“This doesn’t feel right.”

Ilana crinkled her eyes as she placed her folded shirt into her suitcase.

Danny sighed. “We discussed this. I have to get back to work. Matan needs your help getting him ready for the army. How can we push off our flight?”

Ilana picked up another shirt and fingered the soft cotton. “I know, I know. But… my father is still in the hospital. There are still so many decisions to make about his medical care.”

“Ari and Yaffa seem perfectly capable of handling things here.”

Ilana pressed her lips. Of course they were. But how could he not understand that was so beside the point?

“You didn’t see my mother’s face when I reminded her that our flights tomorrow. She was like, ‘You’re going back now?’ I don’t think I’ve gotten such a major guilt trip since I told her I was making aliyah.”

Danny pulled his bathing suit off the shower rod and threw it in his suitcase. “Just because someone’s making you feel guilty doesn’t mean it’s the wrong decision.”

Ilana shook her head. She hated when her husband was so irritatingly logical. It wasn’t “someone” making her feel guilty; it was everyone. It was as if, at last, they’d reached the day that the entire family had been forecasting for decades. That day when the family would be in need, and she’d be far away, selfishly abandoning her filial responsibilities.

Except that she wasn’t far away; she was right here. And she was flying back to Israel smack in the middle of a genuine family crisis.

Danny continued with his arguments. “You can help them make decisions just as well from Beit Shemesh.”

“But we need someone to stay with him in the hospital. And drive my mother back and forth. And care for him when he gets home.” Ilana sat down on the bed.

“There are other people who can do that stuff. Who else can help Matan?”

Ilana swallowed. Of course, Matan came above all else. Even if a little voice inside her whispered that Matan could take care of himself just fine. Her strapping, independent sabra who’d self-confidently grabbed the reins and saved her father’s life when all the rest of them were panicking didn’t need her to buy him his toothbrush or pack it in his duffel bag.

But she definitely didn’t want to go there right now.

“Ima?” Ilana and Danny both turned to the door. “Moriah, you’re back!” Ilana exclaimed. “How’s Grandpa doing?”

“Fine.” Moriah grinned. “When Aunt Yaffa left the room for a second to speak to the doctor, Grandpa made me swear to bring him ice cream next time I come. He says all they’re letting him eat is carrots.”

Ilana’s eyes narrowed. “He had a cardiac arrest and he’s still not taking his health seriously? Danny, I–”

“What, you’re going to stand next to him for the rest of his life to monitor what he eats?”

Moriah turned questioning eyes on her father, who explained, “Ima thinks she should stay longer.”

“Ah.” Moriah pulled on a long strand of hair. “So does Aunt Yaffa.”

“Whaat?” Ilana clenched her hand. “And she told you this?” She felt an instant surge of anger; how dare Yaffa complain about her to her daughter!

“No, of course not. But I heard her and Grandma whispering.” Moriah twisted the strand of hair around her finger. “Actually, that’s what I came to speak to you about,” she said slowly. “Staying longer.”

“Moriah, you know we can’t,” Danny said quickly. “I have my job, Matan’s about to be drafted, and Ima has her work, too.”

“There’s no need to bring my work into this,” Ilana muttered. Six years studying toward her doctorate in anthropology and today she read books to groups of school kids in the local library.

“I wasn’t talking about you guys,” Moriah said. She took a breath and then smiled brightly. “I was talking about me.”

***

“I wash, you dry?” Yaffa asked, gesturing to the pile of fleishig pots that needed to be packed away. Ilana nodded curtly; she was feeling furious with Yaffa at the moment. It was because of her that Moriah wanted to extend her trip for the rest of the summer. Of course, Ilana had nipped that in the bud. She didn’t care how independent Moriah thought she was; there was no way she was letting her daughter stay in the U.S. on her own.

Moriah had blown up about overprotective mothers and even Danny had given her a look that said, you need to let go. But she didn’t care; Hashem had given her only two children and she was going to protect them for all she was worth.

“It’s too bad the Airbnb owners wouldn’t let us stay longer,” Yaffa said as she squeezed soap on the sponge. “This means we’ll have to shlep out to the Poconos for the next few days until the hospital’s ready to release Dad.” She shook her head, as Ilana felt guilt bubble up.

“It’s going to be a lot for you guys,” she murmured.

“Yeah, well, let’s hope he’s discharged soon.” Yaffa frowned at the frying pan in her hand. “Ari and I were discussing what comes next. They don’t know yet what kind of brain damage Dad sustained from the lack of oxygen but he’s definitely going to need rehab. I started researching rehab centers near us that take their insurance. And, of course, we’ll need to get them help at home. We want to set up a meeting with the hospital social worker to figure out what kind of assistance he’s entitled to.”

“Oh, good idea.” She would not feel bad that her siblings were having these discussions without her. She would not. “Is she available to meet today or tomorrow morning? Y’know, since our flight is tomorrow night.”

Yaffa shot her a look of surprise as she handed her the frying pan to dry. “Um, I’m not sure, we can ask.”

Ilana squeezed her fingers around the handle. Why should Yaffa be surprised that she wanted to be involved?

“Yeah, please do.”

After a short pause, Yaffa continued speaking, a funny edge in her voice. “For the rest of the summer, I think we can manage without paid help. I’ve been drawing up a schedule; between my family and Ari’s, we can probably give Ma and Dad full-time coverage. My two big girls are willing to sleep over a few nights, and Ari’s family lives so close, I’m sure Jake, Eli and Tamara can each take turns. Debbie, too,” she added, though a bit more doubtfully.

The guilt was building inside like a pressure cooker. Ilana scrubbed the frying pan, pressing her fingers so hard that she felt the metal through the towel.

“Of course, the kids all have their own plans for these last two weeks of summer, but I think between everyone we should manage. And if they have to cancel getting together with friends, well, they’ll just do it. Their grandparents come first, it’s important to give that chinuch.”

Was Yaffa doing this on purpose? Ilana gritted her teeth—and the dam burst.

She put the pan down with a clank. “There’s no need,” she said.

“Huh?” Yaffa stared at her.

“There’s no need for your kids and Ari’s to give up their summer plans. Moriah’s going to stay with Ma and Dad the rest of the summer.”

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