Zev Friedman

“Where’s Daddy?”

Its 3:04 AM and the phone rings. The voice sounds familiar – mom is on the phone.

“I feel nauseous. Can I take my stomach pill?” The answer is in the affirmative and is simple.

At 4:30 AM the phone rings again. “I feel a little better – but maybe I should call hatzolah?”

The answer is, no need to, and is simple.

At 10 AM, mom is on the phone asking, “Are you coming today?” The answer is “Hope to be there soon,” and is simple.

Watching parents decline as they get older is very painful.

Their loss of physical mobility and dependence on others is the polar opposite of the image we have of our strong, vibrant parents who brought us into this world and tended to our every need when we were small.

There were countless times when they stayed up or got up in the middle of the night to soothe our pain, clean up our ‘regurgitation’ and reassure us that all will be well. Their mere presence gave us a sense of security and well-being.

Witnessing their infirmaries is heartbreaking. When confusion and forgetfulness sets in, the pain of the realization that they are not who they once were is further multiplied.

My mother and father, who like other Holocaust survivors endured the unspeakable, were pillars of strength, faith, commitment, and resolve in rebuilding their lives in a strange land with no family to speak of.

This past week after speaking to my father, who thankfully is very “sharp”, albeit physically weak, he passed the phone to my mother when I asked to speak to “mommy.”

After the normal discussion about how she was feeling, the dinner she just had, the medicine she took, and the nachas from her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, who she loves so much, she asked me, “Where’s daddy?”

Thinking that she may have had a quick memory lapse, I responded, “I just spoke to daddy, I think he’s right next to you.”

She said, “I know – but where is my daddy?”

To this I had no answer…..

About the Author
Rabbi Zev Friedman is the Rosh Mesivta, Dean Of Rambam Mesivta for Boys and Shalhevet High School for Girls.