"Mrs. Hilda Kapnick,” Naomi read aloud, as the three girls passed the door of room 423. “Doesn’t that sound Jewish?”

“Yeah, I think it’s a Jewish name,” agreed Shani, secretly hoping to soon be back in the warmth of her own kitchen instead of the nursing home halls.

“Why not go in, once we’re here?” Bracha volunteered. “It can’t hurt.” Bracha lifted her hand and tapped lightly on the door. The nurse across the hall saw them knocking and raised her eyebrows. “Good luck, ladies,” she murmured to herself.

Shani, Bracha, and Noami, all youth, vigor, and giggles, did look like strange contrasts against the somber, whitewashed halls and reticent nurses. But, the three girls opted for “Adopt-a-Bubby” at the local nursing home over all the other school chesed jobs that were offered, with the idealistic hope that they might be able to touch a lonely heart with a dose of their youth and joie de vivre. But as it turned out, Mrs. Weiss, the lucky candidate for their lofty Adopt-a-Bubby mission, put more smiles on their faces than the other way around. She was one ball of laughter and stories, never short of a willing audience from her constant stream of guests.

Mrs. Kapnick, though, turned out to be an entirely different story.

“What do you want?” a raspy voice answered the timid tapping on the door. The girls opened quietly to find a woman with a face that perfectly matched the discontent in her voice. “Well, what is it? What do you want?” she asked the girls, who were now standing stiffly, like soldiers, lined up against the wall. “Um, well, we just came to say hello,” Naomi offered.

Mrs. Kapnick scoffed. “Well, hello back, then. Maybe next time you come to say hello, you might first want to find out if I’m in the middle of taking my afternoon nap.”

Shani covered her mouth in an effort to stifle the urge to giggle, a reaction she always reserved for the tensest moments.

“Ooops,” Noami whispered under her breath.

“Well, then, sorry for disturbing you,” Bracha offered. We’ll be going then.” And the three girls made a hasty retreat toward the door.

“Ouch, that was bad,” Naomi said, once they reached the safety of the halls.

“Yeah, it doesn’t look like Mrs. Kapnick is in the mood of making new friends,” Shani added, finally allowing herself to giggle.

The nurse from across the hall looked at their startled expressions and turned around to hide an emerging smirk. (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 698)