Julie Gray
Editor, Writer and Only Slightly Reformed Overthinker.

Let Me Tell You About My Loving Life Buddy

My Loving Life Buddy is the peanut butter to my jelly – or vice versa – this is a point we sometimes discuss; is it better to be the peanut butter? Or the jelly? But nevermind. We spend a large portion of our time laughing. We also go to the movies, eat ice cream, sit in our separate salons, reading, and sometimes I help my Loving Life Buddy on his job, delivering flowers.

My Loving Life Buddy reminds me of a Roomba. He just keeps going and going, and when he bumps into something, he reorients himself and goes again. Nothing seems to stop his determination to get things done. On the day I met him, he was wearing his phone on a strap around his neck so he wouldn’t lose it, and had a clipboard of upcoming errands in his hands. He was and is so gloriously unselfconscious that I was immediately impressed. His sparkling blue eyes, quick smile and petite dancer’s body were also charming. But those things were, as it turns out, only the beginning of what I would come to know and love about Gidon.

His playful nature, curiosity, generosity, and most of all, willingness to be vulnerable in this here rock hard world floored me and still does.  Whenever I think of Gidon, I think of the Hebrew word hineni. Here I am. Here I stand. Count me in.

Being the sensitive, writerly type, I get a bit – well – anxious about the state of things these days. In my part of the world, incendiary balloons float and land, setting off wildfires that consume acres of land, although their targets are also towns – and people. Around the world, nationalist politicians are spewing hate and stupidity, a journalist was just murdered with the use of a bone saw and we have been informed that climate change is basically our Waterloo as humans.

I get pretty down in the mouth.  But not my Loving Life Buddy. Hineni, he seems to say to life, by his very continued, cheerful existence. Here I am. Here I stand. Count me in.  Of course, let me be clear, he worries too, he’s not oblivious, my Loving Life Buddy. But he has something that is hard to find these days; his hope is what animates him. That and the presence of his clipboard and pen, the mighty instruments of his “things to do today” list that never ends. Every day, at some point, you will find Gidon hammering, repairing or otherwise retrofitting something that needed fixing. There is nothing – no task, no ask, that my Loving Life Buddy sees as impossible. He doesn’t dwell on the bad, the sad or the inconvenient or the annoying. He just gets things done. And when that thing is done, he gets the next thing done.

Don’t get me wrong, my Loving Life Buddy doesn’t eschew rest. He loves reading the paper cover to cover, eating chocolate ice cream (and anything else that is sweet, if we’re being honest) and watching sports on television. He loves to cook; his shopping and cooking organizational skills are off the charts. He considers his laundry-line methodology quite advanced, compared to mine and he’s right. The laundry really does dry faster when he hangs it out. All of these characteristics are good stuff if you are a slightly neurotic Californian who can’t remember where the can opener is and who tends melt into a puddle of despair, biweekly, about the state of humanity.  My Loving Life Buddy is good for me.

People often wonder what on earth an 83-year-old Czechoslovakian Holocaust survivor, tap dancer, father of six, former dairy farmer and kibbutznik has in common with a 50-something blonde from California. Heck if we know. We only know that we are better together, like peanut butter and jelly.

To learn more about Gidon Lev, check out The Gidon Project.

 

About the Author
Julie Gray is a story editor and nonfiction writer who made the leap from Los Angeles to Israel almost seven years ago and has many (mostly) humorous adventures ever since. A longtime Huffington Post contributor and self-described "Hollywood refugee", Julie works with writers all over the world on fiction and creative non-fiction books. Her own memoir, "They Do Things Differently Here" is an understatement and a work in progress. Julie heads up The Gidon Project, a collaborative memoir about the nature of memory, the spirit of resilience, the Holocaust the art of aging well and other lessons learned from one man's life. Julie's favorite color is "swimming pool" and when she's not working with and wondering about words, she loves to knit "future gifts" in her beloved Big Red Chair.
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