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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

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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)

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