By Esther Rapaport
Shoshi’s fork and knife were now down. “For us, after two and a half weeks, it was enough, and then we rented an apartment right near us for our daughter.”
“Yes. Don’t you know that she got divorced?”
“No … I didn’t hear anything.”
“So now you know. Without going into the details, it happened five months ago. For a month, she insisted on staying alone. Then she moved in with us for two and a half weeks, and since then, like I said, she’s in a rented apartment down the block.”
Mira cut her schnitzel in half. “I’m really sorry to hear that, Shoshi. Is that your oldest?”
“No, she’s my second. A great girl.” Shoshi closed her eyes for a moment. “And she really is wonderful, but even so — it wasn’t good for either her or us to be living together.”
“Does she have any children?”
“Yes, three. They’re adorable.”
“My Chaiky has only two.”
“I remember,” Shoshi said, pouring a glass of water for herself. “But it doesn’t always have to do with the number of children, Mira. If you want the best for you, and for her — it’s good for her to live near you, but not with you. I’m not going into all kinds of stories that just drain the person of energy, because maybe it really doesn’t have anything to do with you and your daughter. I really hope this will end fast, and she will live many more happy years with her husband.”
She offered to pour a cup of water for her friend, too, but Mira didn’t want a drink, thank you. “But just think about the next point — you’re already over sixty, Mira. Have you thought about what it means to go back to raising two little kids? The noise, the mess, and the fact that your daughter will probably try to find a job, or just has to take care of errands relating to her complicated situation, and you become a full-time mother again for hours on end …”
Mira finally cut in weakly, “She was with us for a few days with the children when it all began, and it was actually fine.”
Shoshi took a sip. “That could be,” she noted. “I have heard of cases where a grown child and her family do live with the parents, and it can really vary from one family to another. You can invite her for a trial period, if she wants. But just think about it first, and the fact that we are pretty similar. You might come to realize that it was a good idea for me to tell you all this …”
“Yes, Chaiky, how are you?” On the bus going home, Mira regretted having eaten the schnitzel in the end. By the time she’d finished talking to Shoshi, it was cold and tasteless, and its rubbery texture, while not the fault of the conversation, was pretty unappetizing, too. Now it was sitting in her throat, and she was afraid that the heavy feeling would accompany her for more than an hour, until this bus ride would be over.
“Baruch Hashem. Yoel spoke to me before.”
“Really? When was that?” Before he had spoken to his mother or after? In other words, had he already said something to Chaiky about the idea of her moving to Be’er Sheva?
“Five minutes ago. We didn’t speak for long because he was driving, but I heard from him that the two of you spoke.”
“I’m also traveling now, Chaiky.”
“But I can talk to you while you travel home, right?” Chaiky chuckled.
“Right.” Sure. She wasn’t driving. “But … I don’t know if the bus is the right place for this conversation.” For sure not before she managed to speak to her husband about what Shoshi had said and to think how and what, and if, they should make their offer to Chaiky again. Why had Yoel run to discuss an idea that he’d just heard from his mother? What was his rush?
But Chaiky was already speaking. “… So I told Yoel that at first I was very against the idea, but now I think I’ve changed my mind.”
“Yes. After all, being here alone is really not the most pleasant thing in the world. Especially because, as you know, it’s a bit hard for me to ask for help from Shlomo’s family right now.”
“Too bad. They’re such nice people, and I think they are ready to do anything for you.”
“I don’t want to talk about them right now,” her daughter said quietly. “I’m treating this as an existing situation. Who is or is not to blame does not make a difference to me right now, but it’s a fact that I can’t simply turn to them and share with them what I am going through.”
“You can decide what to establish as fact and what not,” Mira said. She was surprised at herself. It was very uncharacteristic of her to give such a cold answer. But what could she do? There was no way she could discuss with Chaiky the subject of where she was going to live before she sat down with her husband — and herself — to rethink the matter. If she was going to offer again, she wanted to be sure that she wouldn’t regret it afterward.
Despite the very stark differences between Shoshi’s daughter’s story and Chaiky’s saga, Shoshi had succeeded in planting some seeds of doubt in Mira’s mind as to the wisdom of taking the step of inviting Chaiky to move in — or not.
Esther Rapaport is a prolific author whose novels include Diamond in the Rough, Divided Attention, Behind the Scenes, Without a Trace, Dance of the Puppet, Blood Brothers, and The Kenya Conspiracy. She resides in Israel. Stay tuned for the next installment in next week’s Five Towns Jewish Times or visit 5tjt.com for more.