Monday morning, I woke up at 5:00 AM and checked my WhatsApp messages. Mostly the usual except for one that caught my eye. My grandmother, Gitel Rosensweig, was not doing well, she was in intensive care.
After that initial shock, I tried to go about my daily routine, go for a run, do some work…but it was on the drive to the office sitting in traffic where I finally broke down.
I called Mark Feldman from Ziontours and said, “Mark I need to see my bubby.” To which he responded, “Can you be at the airport in an hour? I’m holding the gate for you.”
I zoomed home, packed a bag, drove to Jerusalem again, got in my taxi and 45 minutes later was at the airport running into the terminal building without a second to lose. I cried my way through security and baggage check, miraculously making it by 11 AM to the gate ready for my journey to see Bubby for one last time.
When I arrived in Toronto I called my aunt from a payphone. Her voice sounded worried, “Come straight to the hospital, take a taxi and call me when you are outside.” In the Toronto rush hour traffic, wringing my hands and crying in the back seat, I finally made it to the hospital.”
They warned me to be prepared, but too late for that, I had 12 hours of alone time on the plane to be ready.
As soon as Bubby and I saw each other it was like we had never been apart. “You finally made it!” she said to me. We joked and talked about Chanuka and the kids. She complimented my legs even though she couldn’t see them. I showed her pictures and kissed her and all the family stood around Bubby exactly as she always liked it. Her family surrounding her: her legacy, her pride.
We were all perfect in her eyes. Each and every one of us. As we sang off-key zmirot to her later that evening to fill her neshama with joy, we joked about how her grandchildren are the best singers in the world. THE. BEST.
She was a fighter. She always understood our hearts. A true soulmate. Someone I could talk to and confide in. Whose solution to those truly mind boggling dilemmas in life sometimes conceded with, “Well, at least you look fabulous,”
The last simcha she came to Israel for was my son’s bar mitzvah, even though the trip was already hard for her. She participated so joyously and with such pride in her great grandchildren’s simchas that we always talked about how lucky we were that she didn’t back out this last time and decide not to come even though it was such a hard journey.
I stood by her side just like she had stood by mine so many times before. After my car accident, she sat by my bed in the hospital saying tehillim for me every day, and I would see her beside me every time I opened my eyes. She stood by me when my son read from the Torah for the first time. At each and every momentous occasion in my life, I looked to my right and she was there. She supported me through the ups and downs of all life has to offer. She gave me her pearls of wisdom and her hands to hold me up when I felt weak and her heart to love me when I felt alone.
And as we stood beside her yesterday in the hospital, holding her hands, reassuring her in her last moments that she had achieved so much in her lifetime that it was time to rest, the Matriarch of our family finally passed on.
And although I won’t selfishly be able to put my head on her shoulder or hold her hands anymore, I believe that she is now in a place where she will be able to ‘rock shomayim’ like no one else before her, where she will continue to be a pleader for good for us all and where she will be reunited with all of our loved ones.
Baruch Dayan Emet. May she rest in piece.
Please share any memories or condolences for my grandmother on this memorial site for her: