Wednesday, June 21, 2006

A deprived child

[Inspired by an e-mail conversation with a friend.]

I don’t even remember how many years ago this took place.

I was still singing alto in my former synagogue’s choir. Fortunately, I still have the music for the lullaby that we were learning, so I can tell you that it’s called “Hitrag’ut” (lyrics by Y. Karni, choral setting by P. Ben-Chayim). I can also tell you, based on my memory (I can barely read music, and I can’t sight-sing at all—thank heavens for tape recorders) that it’s gorgeous.

I understood almost none of the words, except for these two, which weren’t even on the same line of lyrics:

Savta . . .

tashir . . .”

"Grandmother . . .

will sing . . . “

In all the years that I sang in choir, this was the only time that a song brought tears to my eyes.

Because I realized that neither of our son’s grandmothers had ever sung him a lullaby.

My husband’s father died when our son was about 10 months old. His mother was never a well woman, and, though my husband and his brother helped her as best they could, she was always too preoccupied with her own problems to develop any real emotional connection with any of her grandchildren.

My parents made aliyah (moved to Israel) when our son was less than three years old.

For all intents and purposes, my son never really had grandparents. Long-distance phone calls just can’t compare with having Grandmom walk in the door and tell you and your siblings to go help Grandpop unload the packages of homemade goodies from the car. Long-distance phone calls just can’t compare with being able to take a car or bus and have your kid at Savta’s and Saba’s house within a couple of hours.

And that’s why I sat in the choir box fighting back tears.

My parents left me many years ago. But I’m not the only one whom they left.


Blogger Elie said...

I lost three grandparents in a four-year period, between the ages of 5-1/2 and 9-1/2. So I grew up without grandmothers, and I know exactly what you mean here.

But I was fortunate in that my paternal grandfather lived until 101, so he was not only in my life until recently, but in my kids' as well.

Wed Jun 21, 03:03:00 PM 2006  
Blogger PsychoToddler said...

My kids are fortunate enough to have grown up surrounded by a set of grandparents and two sets of great-grandparents.

Personally, I can't imagine what that would be like.

Wed Jun 21, 10:57:00 PM 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is gonna sound nuts, but that's one of the reasons i wanted to get married young (19). on the one hand, i wanted my kids to have more time with their grandparents (who did not marry young). and on the other hand, i wanted my kids to have a young & energetic granma for their kids. i reject the image of granma as a nebach.

thank G-d, at least one of those wishes has come true. my kids know their grandparents when they are still young and vital and able to take them on hikes in ein gedi and eilat. now for that second part... i'll do my best ;-)

Thu Jun 22, 12:18:00 AM 2006  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Elie, having no grandmothers is not easy. Thank heaven that you and your children had a long time to enjoy your grandfather's company.

Mark/PT, your kids are fortunate, indeed. I hope that, as they get old enough to become aware of how lucky they are, they appreciate their good fortune.

Drumbumj, this is gonna sound even *more* nuts, but, recently, I was privvy to a conversation that sounded almost exactly like what you wrote. You know how it happens, occasionally, that you find yourself overhearing a conversation that's clearly not intended for your ears at a time when you're not able to move out of earshot? Well, there was a young lady in her late twenties or early thirties, quite obviously pregnant, explaining to a girlfriend that she'd decided to have children at a young age because she'd experienced the limitations in both physical terms and tolerance-of-kids'-commotion terms that age had placed on her parents both as parents and as grandparents.

About that second wish, well, best of luck on a hopeful "second go-round." Some of my friends have been much more fortunate in their second marriages than they were in their first. I wish you the same.

Thu Jun 22, 01:04:00 AM 2006  

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