Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter

Lifetakes: Flashbacks

Sarah Fink

I resisted the crazed urge to call out to her, to yell for her to stop, to take me, a perfect stranger, along with her

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

 Mishpacha image


I was navigating through early morning traffic when I saw her.

The heavy material of the brown cable-knit sweater was draped over the sequined cotton top. The faded dark skirt, thick stockings, and padded sneakers pressing wearily against the concrete gave my heart a jolt.

Cars honked with indignation as I slowed and drifted to the side of the road where I could catch a better glimpse. The driver of the car behind me gave a menacing glare as he sped around me in a huff. Oblivious, I looked ahead with longing. Bubby.

I yearned for the intangible; I longed to reach out and touch this woman’s velvety wrinkled hand and link arms to support her as she crossed the busy avenue, her stiff brown sheitel barely moving in the breeze.

Where was she going? I wondered. I imagined her coming home to a small but cozy apartment, warm and thick with old carpeting and dark, well-kept furniture. I saw her hovering over the stove, cooking fish balls and boiled chicken and hearty vegetable soup, and then putting on plastic reading glasses and sitting down to do the crossword over a mug of hot tea. Bubby.

I resisted the crazed urge to call out to her, to yell for her to stop, to take me, a perfect stranger, along with her.

What was wrong with me?

It was something I found myself doing lately, as I approached my thirties and lost more and more of the elderly members of my family. They were such a part of my childhood, yet I had taken them for granted for most of my life.

I would walk down the street, and suddenly all would blur as I stared at an old man with his gray woolen cap pulled over his white hair, his pinstriped pants belted high over his belly. He held a worn leather briefcase in one hand as he strode confidently down the avenue, severe eyebrows almost concealing twinkling eyes. I knew he was going to his office, where, although his hands sometimes shook and he wasn’t as energetic as he once was, his keen mind — sharpened by years of hard work and difficult life experiences — and his unparalleled vast knowledge earned him the respect and admiration of his colleagues, and made him irreplaceable. I would halt in my tracks, the word Zeidy! bubbling up in my throat in an uncontrollable whisper. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 589)

Related Stories

Tempo Story: Time to Grow Up

Julie Ackerman

My poor brand-new husband, indoctrinated to never, ever, dare forget a woman’s birthday, was in for ...

Lifetakes: A Dressing Down

Esther Kurtz

I mean, I wear this stuff, it’s my unique style, but would my students get it? I need to be new and ...

Tempo Story: Circle of Life

Shayna Schreiber

A PhD? In physics? Here I’m scraping my way through a bachelor’s in media arts, and this woman is a ...

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.

Drink to Eternity
Rabbi Moshe Grylak Redemption doesn’t simply mean being let out of jail
Klal Yisrael Is Always Free
Yonoson Rosenblum "In that merit will Klal Yisrael continue to exist”
Home Free
Eytan Kobre My baseline for comparison is admittedly weak
Believe in Your Own Seder
Rabbi Judah Mischel Hashem is satisfied when we do our best
Picture Perfect
Yisroel Besser Take a picture — and this time, send it to yourself
Flying Solo
Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman As Pesach loomed closer, his resentment was growing
Hanging on by a Hair
Jacob L. Freedman MD “Do you still think that I’m not completely crazy?”
A Song for Every Season
Riki Goldstein Influencers map out their personal musical soundtracks
Subliminal Speech
Faigy Peritzman The deeper the recognition, the deeper the effect
The Big Change
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Spelling things out clears clouds of resentment
The Count-Up
Mrs. Shani Mendlowitz Tap the middos of Sefirah to recreate yourself
The Baker: Part 1
D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP with Zivia Reischer "She can't get married if she can't build a relationship...
Know This: Infertility
As Told to Bracha Stein There was no place for me. I didn’t belong
Dear Shadchan
The Girl Here's the thing: I need time