Finding myself in the Middle East

Sunday, October 16, 2011

My Inheritance

(it has come to my attention that some of you are having problems commenting on this blog. That makes sense, because I am having trouble commenting on YOUR blogs. Not sure what the problem is, and as anything technology related makes me curl up in the fetal position, this is not a good situation. I will do my best though! Any tips--if the comments come through--are welcome!)

The kids were in, no small thanks to Outdoorsman. I was thoroughly done. Stick a fork in me done. Sitting at the table drinking tea in the middle of a toy and small random bits of paper strewn house done. Done done. On cue, Turtle wakes up and screams on top of his pretty impressive lungs. I run to his room and find him face down in a pool of medicine-and-milk colored vomit. I lift him up, and he is coated, from his freshly laundered pajamas to his freshly washed face. I yell for Outdoorsman and then carry him, dripping and screaming, to the bathroom to wash him off. "It's okay, poor little boy," I croon. "It's okay." His eyes are half closed under the stream of warm water, and I have reason to hope that he will go back to sleep quickly. He has a cold, and while he's always been quick to throw up, add some flegm to the equation and this was becoming a nightly ritual.

"Ima!" came a voice from the girls' room.

If I ignore it, it will probably go away.

"Iiiiima!" The voice insisted.

My tea cooled on the dining room table and I strived really hard to do the same to my temper. "Yes, Princess." I said in even tones. "What is it?"

"Ima, can I help you with Turtle?"

All I could think was, I am so glad that I kept my temper. I am so glad. "No, sweetie. No, sweet girl. But thank you!"

Princess began to wheedle. "Please? Please can I help you? I want to do a mitzvah."

But he was all clean, and so were his sheets. Getting Princess back to bed after she gets up is an arduous task. And I knew that i might not accomplish it without getting annoyed. "Love, thank you. I know you want to do a mitzvah. But right now, the mitzvah I need from you is to listen to Ima and stay in bed."

She began to cry. "I want to help you with Turtle. THAT'S the mitzvah I want to do."

And I thought to myself as I tucked Princess back in, I know, Love. I really do. It's what's pulling at your heart. But it's not what I need from you now.

And I know that everything makes me think about my father now, but this really made me think about my father now. Because he and my mother were Givers. They had an open door policy. I have so many stories, like the time my father found a woman and her child lost and alone in a new city. He brought them home with him and they lived with us for six months until my mother helped her get set up in an apartment. Baaleh Teshuva, foster siblings, so many people called them Ima and Abba.

My house growing up has four doors, one on each side, like Ahvraham's tent. That's all that was in my father's heart; he wanted to use what he had to help others.

And then he got sick. And at first he was so angry. My mother once said to me in a broken kind of way, "I tell Hashem, don't you know what we want to do in Your Name? I want to take kids in. I want to help lost souls. I want to feed and hold and help all of Your children. Why are you taking away our ability to do that?"

And then my father realized, long before the rest of us were granted the accentance, that he wanted to do so many mitzvahs--but they were not the ones that were wanted of him. He wanted to sacrifice for Hashem--and Hashem demanded a very different sort of sacrifice.

And my father gave Hashem what was asked of him. My father gave Hashem his smile, even when his body was painfully and slowly making him a prisoner, even as his body shut down and, 22 days ago, killed him.

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