Letters to my son while we are apart in Israel

4/21/17 – Day 1

I miss you 😘 Grandpa keeps asking me where you are. I showed him the photo posted of you on the donkey and he said, “which one’s the ass?!” Then 3 minutes later he asked me where you were again, so I said, “Where is he??” and he said, “On an ass!” He remembered!  So I’m doing an experiment to see if bad words help his memory. Stay tuned.

P.S.  It’s amazing that you can daven out of a Siddur the size of a postage stamp because both your parents have poor vision.

P.P.S.  You look great in the pictures, and like you’re really happy and having fun.  But try wearing your hat forward to protect your face from the sun, otherwise it’s not much more than a sun kippah with some serious hat head aftermath.

P.P.P.S.  I am sending all this in one text so you won’t say I texted too much.

4/22/17 – Day 2

It’s been two days since I’ve heard from you.  M called his mother.  M’s’ mother offered to tell M to tell you to call me.  I figure having your friend tell you to call your mother might rank only slightly above having your grandmother yell, “Don’t sit on the toilet seat!” in a public bathroom.  My grandmother used to embarrass me terribly when she did that.  Now that I’m a grown up, I actually think it’s good advice given with perfect timing by someone who cares.  Or maybe it would rank on par with Grammi calling the tuxedo store when your dad was trying on the tuxedo for our wedding, and the store clerk shouted to him, “Your mother is on the phone!”  Anyway, by tomorrow I’m sure I will have heard from you and I won’t have to tell M’s mother to have M remind you not to forget to change your underwear.

I am still trying to solve Grandpa’s problems, and not just treating his memory problems with curse words, but other things too.  He seems to really appreciate my help.  He told me to go back to America and leave him alone.

Grandma told me there’s a new hotel here.  I have no idea why she brought that up.  She is happy I’m here because I can answer some of Grandpa’s questions.  Also, when Daddy recommended we keep a log of some things, she said she couldn’t do it.  I made the log anyway.  Now she’s going along with it.  I bet she’s glad to have me around to inspire her.  I still don’t know why she mentioned that hotel.

4/23/17 – Day 3

I don’t want to go to bed without writing you, even though all you wrote to me today was a single word, “Good”.  I asked if you could call me and you said, “The wife doesn’t work too great”.  Three days we’re apart and you’ve already married?!  I can’t say I’m surprised, as you’re a good-looking kid.  Apparently you didn’t choose too wisely, though, if she doesn’t work too great.  Not to say ‘I told you so’, but you should have kept your promise to let me choose your girlfriends (I chose Daddy, didn’t I?).  I don’t know if they have annulment in Israel, but you should ask the tour guide.  

Today we went to see relatives.  When we got close to our destination, we couldn’t find the entrance.  Grandma called the restaurant and tried to get directions but the lady she was talking to wasn’t good at giving directions and Grandma isn’t good at getting directions.  I tried to talk to the lady in English, but she didn’t speak English, so I tried to talk to her in Hebrew but I didn’t understand anything she said back to me (But isn’t that impressive that she understood me?!).  Meanwhile, I abandoned Google maps for Waze, even though I knew there was a chance Daddy would divorce me for that, and I tried telling Grandpa which way to go.  Let’s just say that there was loud volume on behalf of some members of the family, lots of conflicting directions, and the lady on the phone probably needed therapy after that phone call.  I think I’ve regained most of my hearing.

When we say “Never Again”, we usually mean to persecution, and that cannot be overstated. But it can also mean, “I learned from my mistakes and I’m not going to repeat them because I have new and exciting other mistakes waiting to be made”.  I hope you learned from your mistake of marrying too young without your mother’s blessing.  I learned that when you’re old and set in your ways, you shouldn’t stay with your parents, who are older and setter in their ways. It’s a poor fit for everyone.  It also makes me appreciate Daddy, because even though he’s got that selective hearing problem and lacks a uterus with which to find anything without me so he has to text me from overseas to locate every object in the house, he doesn’t mind letting me have things the way I like them. That’s called a “good fit”.  Remember the fit factor when you remarry.  

P.S.  I’m not sending you a wedding present.  

4/24/17 – Day 4

You already know about my sighting of you at the Kinneret Cemetery and my act of great restraint when I left without you seeing me, and before you could rush over, leaping over headstones and across the busy street, to wrap me in a huge bear hug.  I sure would have liked to have met your new wife, though.  Hope she’s working better.

Besides that, I had a tour of many beautiful and interesting things, including lots of bathrooms.  It’s part of my research for my upcoming award-winning travel book, “Bathrooms of Israel”.  It will be right up there with Fodors.  

I had a problem in a gas station bathroom, though.  It was one of those single-room bathrooms with the kind of dead bolt that Israelis seem to love to put on bathroom doors.  I don’t know why they need such a serious lock.  Are other Israelis undeterred by the wimpy kind of locks Americans use on bathroom doors that mildly discourages entering?  Do they fear someone would seriously come in and, what?  Sit on their lap?!  Well, I couldn’t get the lock unlocked, and I was starting to panic.  The room could double as a bomb shelter, with a steel door and that Fort Knox style lock, so I knew I was not likely to be able to kick the door down, even if I tried (harder than I did).  So I texted Moshe, who was out in the car:  “I am locked in the bathroom!  Get in here and get me out!”  Thankfully I then got it open, which is good, because a moment later I would have been screaming my head off, hair wild, sweat dripping off my face, frenetically kicking the door for all it’s worth.  Since then I don’t lock bathroom doors.  I know it sounds risky, because someone could walk in and that would be embarrassing, but it would be less embarrassing than finding me in the frenzy that I would have been if that door hadn’t opened then.  That bathroom is not getting a good review in my book, that’s for sure.

At my next bathroom stop, the door didn’t quite shut without being locked, so it slowly opened.  But no one was around except some cows who were very close, but apparently not that interested. I don’t think I’d be embarrassed if the cow saw me in the bathroom. She nursed her calf in front of me.  We’re cool.  

Between the cemetery sighting and the bathroom breakdown, it was a pretty exciting day.


4/25/17 – Day 5

They say there’s an art to getting a person to open up to you.  I am an artist.  After days of one-word responses, I got you to open up and share all your feelings with me.  You wrote me this Ode, a love poem of sorts, which is so beautiful (even if it doesn’t rhyme):

Chips — 2 regular, 2 barbeque
Cheese curls
1 Ramen noodles (Trust me on this)”

I trust you and your Ramen noodles.  I see you.  (Avatar soundtrack)

4/26/17 – Day 6

You are in the south.  Now you should wear the hat with the brim all the way around, and definitely no more hat-backwards fashion statements.  Part of maturing is making decisions that are good for the long run and not just what you want right now. Trust me, no matter what you wear today, 30 years later when you look at your old pictures, your kids will say you looked like a dork.

4/27/17 – Day 7

I have not been able to figure out how to turn the front door notifications off on my phone.  The front door at home rang, and it rang on my phone.  I watched Grammi go out the door to get a package that had been left.  I said, “Hi!”  The look on her face – there are no words. I guess the line was all breaking up, so she couldn’t really understand me.  I tried to tell her that her insane son had set up this system to monitor whether I’m having an affair with the UPS guy, and she said, “I should be so lucky!”  Priceless.  I hung up because she couldn’t hear me, but I guess she kept talking.  She suggested I try calling on the phone. I prefer the doorbell, actually.  And the rate on long-distance calls can’t be beat.

4/28/17 – Day 8

I have you for the weekend!  Your sunscreen is still factory sealed after 9 days on your class trip in Israel. You have more clean clothes than dirty, a ratio that should be reversed. You abandoned use of your 2-liter Camelbak because it “didn’t hold as much water” as the 1.5-liter uninsulated water bottle that you were given. But I’m going to choose to focus on the fact that you lost your hair brush, which means you must have taken it out of your toiletry bag at least one time. Yay!

4/29/17 – Day 9 (but not apart)

You are in the living room watching TV.  I guess I’ve waited here in Israel for 9 days so we could be together and share moments like this:

Me:  What are you watching?
You:  It’s a cop show.
Me:  Is it appropriate?
You:  Yes.
Me:  Well, the language isn’t good and he just dropped his pants.  What next?
You:  He’s going to reproduce a painting.
Me:  Oh, OK.

4/30/17 – Day 10

You left today.  I miss you more than before you came home for the weekend.  I look at the ice cream sandwiches you didn’t eat, and I feel sad.  I can’t even look at the leftover matzah ball soup that you loved because it makes me feel like crying.  All the food you’ll never eat, everything reminds me that you’re gone and not coming back. This feeling of loss is out of proportion and unreasonable.  I don’t recognize myself in this.  Am I all the mothers who lost a son?  A motherless daughter losing a father?  It is Yom Hazikaron and the whole country is crying inside, while outside they stand still and strong.  I am good at that.

5/1/17 – Day 11

I’m leaving today.  I am also good at that.   The sirens wail.  I stand at attention.  Five minutes later, I’m in a taxi heading to the airport.  I envy you–young and carefree in Israel.  I was once like you.  My fondest childhood memories, my best teenage moments, all happened here.  This place where people push and argue, laugh and cry–here I feel most alive.  It’s your turn now.  And when you come back, tell me all about it so I can remember.