Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

22 Adar 5766 - March 22, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Home and Family

Part II from the autobiography, "With All of Me," by Sara Glaser, author of "Lifesavers' Guide"


Momma had thirteen 'tappings' (fluid removed from her lungs). Each time she had to be hospitalized. At times when she would think she was going to die, she asked me to stay with her during the night. I would sit in the chair next to her bed. During those long, quiet hours I had time to think of many things, and look back to past years.

When I was about thirteen, my brother and I were sitting in the living room listening to the radio. It was hot, and suddenly Momma appeared with a seltzer bottle and started spraying us. Sammy and I each grabbed a seltzer bottle and we were all running after each other spraying soda water. We, as well as the furniture, got wet, but we had such a good time, and laughed so much.

I felt sad that my baby, unlike his brother, would not get to know his Bubby. She was a great grandma, loving and affectionate, and always trying to feed them.

Each time she went into the hospital for a tapping, I would arrange to have someone take care of Louis. I would drop him off, drive my husband to work, and then go to the hospital to be with her. In the afternoon I would reverse the procedure. Upon arriving home I would first start preparing our meal, straighten up the house, do the laundry, do shopping, and whatever else was necessary.

One afternoon, on my way home from the hospital, I was pulling into my neighbor's driveway to pick up my little boy when I heard him screaming. I ran in to find that his right arm was badly burned. The neighbor told me that some boiling water had spilled on him around nine that morning!

I was shocked and furious when she told me she had not called or taken him to a doctor because she thought it might get better! I immediately called my pediatrician. He said to wrap his arm in plastic wrap and bring him in right away. He had second degree burns that took a full year to heal.

I was convinced that "Somebody up there" didn't like me. First my own spinal surgery, then Steve's baseball accident, then the housekeeper and Louis falling down the stairs, then the fire, then my mother's illness, and now this. All of it happening one right after the other, with no chance to recuperate from one 'blow' before the next one came. When will it stop? I asked, looking up at the sky.

One night, seven months after her surgery, Momma passed away. I was sitting by her hospital bed stroking her hand. Although her death was expected, when it came, it was traumatic. The actual loss, the fact itself, was painful and wrenching. It was as if something inside me was being torn or ripped out of me. I cried uncontrollably while hugging the wall outside her room. At times I banged it angrily with my fists. She was 66 years old.

When I finally left the hospital and returned home to tell my family what happened, my husband informed me that my older son's previous injury suddenly was causing him much pain. The doctor said he would need to have the operation that they'd thought they could avoid months before. We had to rush him to the hospital. They said they would have the operating room ready.

We made the ride in record time. I do not remember getting out of the car, but I do recall standing in a dimly lit hospital corridor after seeing my son taken into the operating room. I was grief-stricken over my mother's passing just hours before, and now I was filled with worry over my son's condition. I suddenly began to cry, like a gushing waterfall, and couldn't stop. The next thing I knew it was morning. A nurse had given me a tranquilizer and put me in an available bed for the remainder of the night. Steve's operation was successful, Boruch Hashem, and I went to my mother's funeral.

Soon after Momma's passing, my stepfather told me he was moving in with us. I had mixed emotions. I was pleased that he wanted to be with me, but I was concerned because he and my husband did not get along well. I could not tell him not to come, so he moved in, sharing a bedroom with my younger son.

About four months went by fairly smoothly, when my stepfather became ill. He had to have a fairly common operation for older men. Things were going well after surgery. The following night, at around ten thirty, the doctor called, telling me to get to the hospital right away to try and calm my step-father. He had pulled the IV tube out of his arm. There was blood everywhere, on him, the nurse, and the walls.

Another nightmare to deal with. Another loved one suffering! I ran to the hospital, and fortunately, I was able to quiet him down. He was very frightened. I stayed with him, talking to him until the sedative took effect and he fell asleep. I then went home to do the same thing, exhausted, and drained from the experience.

Boruch Hashem he recuperated, but he was not happy. He found it difficult to live on Long Island, so far away from his friends and the things he liked to do. He became irritable at little things. He was also still very concerned about his health. Finally, he and my husband had a big argument. He wanted me to 'take his side' and could not understand that I could not do that. I begged them both to try to resolve their problem, but I was not successful.

A few weeks later when I was out of the house for several hours, my stepfather moved out. He did not tell me he was leaving, or where he was going. He did not say goodbye. He just left. I never heard from him, or of him, again. I called his friends to see if they knew anything. They told me he said he was returning to his native country to die.

I did not want to believe what I heard. I did not know from which city or town he came, or any relatives he might have had. I didn't know whom to contact or where to go to find out anything about him, and neither did any of his friends.

My feeling of rejection was deep and painful. Didn't he know I loved him? Didn't he love me? Why did he do this? Did my not "siding with him" hurt him so deeply that he left without even a goodbye. I lived with this rejection for some time. When I was able to focus away from myself, I looked at his life from his point of view.

He lost my mother, moved to an environment alien to his own where he had no friends, and then became ill. He was worried about his health and did not get along with my husband. And perhaps he felt I did not love him. Whatever the reasons, I hope he found peace and contentment.

Unfortunately, I am not, although I would like to be, at the spiritual level that makes me happy instead of sad, while I am experiencing suffering. I'm working on it.

Through my experiences as an educator, and in my personal and business dealings, I have learned the importance of repetition and review. G-d, in His infinite wisdom, consistently clarifies my knowledge and understanding, and strengthens my trust, by testing me repeatedly regarding a particular correction I need to make.

He knows, better than I do, when I have come to believe, and at what level I am at, intellectually, and emotionally, at any given time. I have learned that only when Hashem determines it is time for me to move on, and work on something else that needs perfecting, does He give me new, appropriate tests.

Sometimes I pass them, and sometimes, unfortunately, I don't. There is also no guarantee that I won't, on occasion, slip backwards. I see how repetition and review, via various, subtle and not so subtle situations, are some of the ways Hashem helps me make and enforce necessary changes in how I think and feel, and therefore, in how I behave.


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