Tonight I drove my son-in-law back to his base in the North. While I was driving him to his meeting point, my other son-in-law was en route home for a two day furlough.
This war has touched everyone.
I can only speak as a father, father-in-law, grandfather. But my story is not unique. It is the same story that every father and mother, father-in-law and mother-in-law, grandfather and grandmother, living here in Israel, can recount since October 7th.
I watch my daughters “coping” as they trudge through life day to day.
They wake the kids up, get them ready for school, run some errands to keep the house functioning as smoothly as they can, pick the kids up from school, manage homework and all the ‘shenanigans” that the kids had to deal with at school with their mates who are facing the same struggles, deal with crying and emotional children sometimes all at once or individually, give them supper, bathe them and calm them down for bedtime, keep an ear open for children crying out of their sleep or calling for “abba” out of their sleep, being watchful as any number of kids come sleepy-eyed to her bed and trying to manage a bit of sleep before this cycle begins again.
They are doing this alone, neglecting their own well-being. Just making sure the children are safe and “managing”.
As a parent, our job is to be supportive and to be as helpful as we can. We have to be there when they ask for help and be there when they are afraid to ask.
As a grandparent our job is to be “on call”. We are there for our daughters day or night and in the middle of the night, trying to fill in their gaps and give them a chance to breathe if even for a few short seconds.
We watch the unspoken agitation in our grandchildren. They are not allowed to watch the news but they know how bad things are. They speak with their friends and find comfort with each other. They try to follow their mother’s instructions knowing how fragile and tenuous the situation is. They speak with their eyes and use no words.
Fearful to upset their mother. Fearful to upset the tenuous balance. Fearful of what they fear but fearful to express those fears.
As we loaded his gear into my car, my son-in-law turned around to hug and kiss his wife and to nuzzle and kiss his children. As we drove away we could hear the cry of “abba”.