Sunday, January 29, 2012

Happy Birthday


Yin and Yan
Yan and Yin

Mommy:  And today the baby is two.

Isaac:  That means she is the oldest.

M:  Excuse me, four is older than two.  So, no, she is not the oldest of the two of you. 

I:  Mommy, I am not talking about the body.  I am talking about the soul.  Rachel is the oldest soul in our family.  You are next.  I am after you and Tateh is the baby.  That means Rachel is your boss.  You are my boss.  And I am Tateh's boss.  (He spoke this last line with utter glee.) 

M:  Don't tell this to your father.  It will not be appreciated. 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

All the World's a Stage...


The Exit and The Entrance

The cardiac intensive care waiting room is a mournful and grief stricken place.  From the hallway looking in, we saw a woman tearing her hair crying, "no, no, no..."  There were others wailing, keening, and even someone catatonic-like, all for a fuller expression of sadness.

We stood there watching this drama of life.  "Can you stay in your stroller while I go to see Grandma?  I'll only be two minutes maximum.  Your brother is in charge.  Can you?  Can you stay in your stroller while you wait for me to come back?", I asked my young daughter with Down Syndrome.  

"Yes, Mommy, I can do that for you," she replied with complete sincerity in her face and voice.  

"Okay, thank you,"  I said as I turned to my son.  "You will be in charge.  Can you do this?  It's your last chance to say 'no'."  

He looked at me with his big eyes and serious face, "yes, Mommy, I can be in charge."  

"Good.  Two minutes or less.  I promise."  We walk into the waiting room.  I notice a little side room filled with a family.  A man is pounding the wall with his fist.  His forehead drips blood.  Perhaps he began the pounding with his head.  Everyone in that corner looks at him in silence, tears rolling down their cheeks.  We continue into the crowded room until we find an empty place.  "Okay guys, two minutes or less."  My daughter and her  sincerity have left the stroller and are getting comfortable on someone's sweater on the sofa.  "You must not sit on other people's stuff."  This is why ages sixteen and under are forbidden from entering the cardiac ICU.  

My son looks at me and says, "just go, Mommy, just go."

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

An Open Letter to President Obama


Why People Hate the Government

There is a small valise beneath his side of the bed. 

"Don't touch that!" my mother said.   Her tone and manner I understood.  I never bothered it again. 

Sixty years later that valise remains ever ready, ever vigilante, still beneath his side of the bed, the contents, a mystery.  I never asked what or why.  I simply understood.

My father has always been our eyes and ears in a realm beyond the one he showed us.  We should never know what he has known.  And so, WE THANK YOU, DEAR G-D, FOR AMERICA, THE GREAT, FREE LAND, where a small valise may ever remain under his side of the bed, always untouched. 

Today with my own family and household I know of other realms.  But I have neither the time nor the tools to deal with these details.  My husband has been my eyes and ears while I care for the homefront.  This other realm requires an awareness and temperment I have never possessed. 

I introduce you to my husband, the historian.

Dear Mr. President,

First let me say I do not hate the government. The United States government has done many good and great things, to wit: the development of inter-changeable parts in manufacturing, the canals, railroads, lasts in shoe manufacturing, diesel-electric engines, nuclear power, the space program and all its spinoffs, computer technology, the Internet; freeing the slaves, defeating the Nazis, creating democratic republics in Germany and Japan, ending Jim Crow in the South, and winning the Cold war. But now, Mr. President, our government no longer seems to work.

 As we are Jewish, when my son was born almost 16 years ago, he was not named in the hospital but eight days later at his circumcision. Dutifully, 10 days later we changed his name at the Cook County Clerk's office from "Blank Blank Rubin" to "Isaac Shalom Rubin", paying our fee. We obtained a copy of his birth certificate, got him a Social Security card, and in the ensuing five years we moved six times. Fast forward to roughly two years ago, when my wife suggested we take a trip to Stratford, Canada to see Shakespeare, which unfortunately now requires a passport. We could no longer find the original copy of my son's birth certificate and decided to get another in the Great State of Illinois. My wife had no problem getting my daughter's birth certificate or ordering hers from 1955.  I, of course, have a passport and, in addition, have an original "long form".  My son's birth certificate, however, came out "Blank Blank Rubin". My father-in-law began to blow a fuse but my wife kept her presence of mind and asked what to do. The response, call the State.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

A Time of Need


All Prayers Come to Me

Born of darkness
Blooms of light
Heartfelt passage
Lost at night
In the fear
Released by joy
Held as ballast and trembling

Step by step
The ladder grows tall
Jacob's rungs climb and wrestle slow
Every toe may stub its mark
All the battles struggle

Every moon does wax and wane
Divine sparks do shine and feign
Another world amidst our own
Of faith and grace embracing

It is our own

And G-d said, "All prayers come to Me."