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Monday, May 30, 2016


I run an internet based writer's workshop, and was inspired to write this after one of the women described how her father is slowly slipping away from her. 

 “Excuse me,” I said to the tall Hispanic man. He stared at his cellphone. “I’m looking for Rose Levine.”

He  pointed to a small, frail woman sitting in the corner. I quietly walked over to where she was sitting and stared at a stranger. Finally, I recognized her.

“Hi, Mom,” I began.

No reaction. Her hairy chin remained resting in the hollow of her chest. Her bony arms (Mommy, you were always dieting. Was this the goal?) hung lifelessly on her lap.

“Mommy, it’s me. Debbie.”

Nothing. Her eyes were barren, the color of an algae polluted pond.

I sat on the empty chair next to her and gently grasped her hand. “Mommy,” I smiled, stifling my tears. “It’s Debbie. Your daughter. I came to visit you. From Israel. Mommy, I love you.”

Not a ripple of recognition.

Then I felt her hand grasp mine. “Mommy,” she said. “Mommy, mommy.”  She lifted my hand to her lips and gave it a kiss. Her saliva dripped HerHHdown my forearm. I didn’t wipe it away.

Mommy loved music. She had a voice like a nightingale, and she was always singing; as she washed the dishes, made the beds, did the laundry.  Whenever I’d come to visit her at the Home, I’d take her to some secluded corner and begin to sing. She always joined me. Even after she forgot the names of her children, and who she was, and almost everything she said sounded like gibberish, she was able to sing all the lyrics to her favorite songs. And sing them she did, with an intensity that could only be described as deveikus.  When we sang together, our souls communicated; and we soared.

So now I sat close to Mommy and quietly began to sing, “Climb every mountain…”


“How much is that Doggy in the window?”


“K..k..k Katy, my beautiful Katy…”

No reaction. None whatsoever.

An immaculately dressed woman, her hair pulled tightly into a bun pushed a man in a wheelchair up to the  table behind us and sat in the empty chair next to him.  There was  too much rouge on her cheeks and her lipstick was  a shade too bright.

“Sam,” she began. “It’s me, Elaine.”


“Sam, do you remember when we were seventeen? We were so much in love.”  

I moved my chair away to give her privacy. I could hear her sniffling.

“We were so young then, but I’m still in love with you. Don’t you know me? It’s me Elaine. Your wife. Your sweetheart.”


I stroked my mother’s hand. My tears flowed. I didn’t bother to wipe them away.

The Music Man was playing on the large video screen opposite us (every time I came to the Home, it was the same video. Always the Music Man). The song “Sweet Dreams, My Someone,” filled the oppressive silence.
“Sweet dreams be yours, dear,
If dreams there be
Sweet dreams to carry you close to me.
I wish they may and I wish they might
Now goodnight, my someone, goodnight”
Later that night I tucked my mother into bed and kissed her goodnight. I returned to Israel the following morning. My family needed me.
Three weeks later I was back again. This time, for my mother’s funeral. 

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