We Israelis love to moan and groan – about just about everything. We complain about the weather, the government, the neighbors – you name it. But the greatest moaners and groaners are the grandparents, who have lots to say about the children and the grandchildren. “Why don’t you come to see us?”, “Why do you come to see us so often?”, “Don’t you like the present we gave you?”, etc. etc. and so forth.
The current Corona Crisis has brought out the worst in this group. The constant moan is that they cannot see the grandchildren everyday / every week like they are used to. They cannot live without the visits that are such an essential part of their lives – and which they are so happy about when they come to an end. “Thank goodness they’ve gone home, I couldn’t stand another minute of the noise!”, etc. Now, when these visits are not possible, and everyone is confined to their homes, the groans have reached ridiculous proportions, and these ‘poor’ grandparents make sure that all their friends and acquaintances know all about their tzuruss (problems in Yiddish).
I think the time has come for all the moaners to take a step back, and put their situation into proportion. Two reactions to this immediately come to mind:
A – All the local groaners should stop and think about their fellow grandparents, whose children and grandchildren do NOT live in Israel. These poor folks suffer under the separation from their offspring every day of the year (with the exception of the once or twice yearly visit in one direction or the other). These poor grandparents live for the once or twice weekly ‘visit’ with their little ones through Skype or Zoom or WhatsApp Video. No hugs, no kisses, no sticky hand or smelly hair – just a virtual glimpse of life overseas and if the grandchildren talk to you for more than 2 minutes, you should feel lucky. Think about that, how it is to be separated from your grandchildren all the year-long, for many, many years. Think how lucky you have been to have them close at hand – even if their visits are loud, sticky and often unbearable.
B – On a totally different level, all the groaners should step back and think about how their parents (or grandparents) felt, when they left their country of birth, leaving parents and siblings and grandparents behind, often never to see them again. How it was for them to sit and wait for the letters to come, that often took two-to-three months to arrive (in the old, old days) and in modern times, could still take two-to-three weeks in each direction. And how it was that when one family member became ill, the news would take so long to arrive that by the time it did reach the Land of Israel, the loved one had often already gone to their eternal rest.
And think too, on an international scale, how a hundred years ago, parents and grandparents felt when they received news that they son or grandson had succumbed to the Spanish Flu while in service to their country, when they didn’t even know he was ill.
So to all the moaners and groaners, let me say this. Put things into proportion, enjoy the fact that you have the technology to stay in touch with your families no matter where they are, that you can hear about their daily activities and enjoy their accomplishments and think twice before telling everyone how hard it is to be separated from the grandchildren – even by only a kilometer or two.