Moderated by Rachel Stein / email@example.com
A heady aroma of hibiscus and daisies wafted through my window, and my heart danced with excitement and anticipation. The very air seemed to herald the celebration of our freedom, translating into one harmonious and beautiful picture: family togetherness.
Missing our long-distance children, I could hardly wait to spend Passover with them. Hm, I mused, what gift should I bring each of them?
The faces of my son and daughter-in-law and our three precious grandchildren flitted through my mind. I trekked up to the attic and pulled out my flaming-orange suitcase. Feeling childlike as I skipped down the stairs, I flung the suitcase onto my bed and began the process. Should I take the black skirt or the multicolored one for the first night?
I’ll just take both, I decided, pulling them from the bowels of my closet and depositing them on the daunting pile taking root on the center of my queen-size bed.
“Hi, Ma.” It was my eldest son, David, calling.
“David, so nice to hear from you! I was just starting to pack.”
“Oh, that’s nice.” If there was hesitation in his voice, I didn’t pick up on it.
“Is there anything you need that I can bring?” I offered, already planning a gift that was sure to put a smile on his face. Dave, my absent-minded, brilliant professor, was always putting his phone down and forgetting where, spending inordinate time searching every room. I planned to buy him a cute stand attached to a charger that would pop into his vision the moment he entered the room. For my daughter-in-law, Judy, some monogrammed towels would be perfect.
“Well, it’s like this,” David said. “You see, now that Rachel is married with a baby on the way, they kind of made a request.”
My hands paused in their folding and packing. “Yes, honey?”
“Well, they want to stay with us and use our guest room.”
If a fist had slammed into my abdomen, I couldn’t have been more shocked. For 20 years, the guest room had been allocated to us whenever we visited. The lovely little basement suite with its own bathroom suited us. We always felt so wanted whenever we came.
“So I figured you could stay in the hotel nearby,” David said. “Or, if you prefer, we have a neighbor around the block who offered his guest room. Whatever would make you more comfortable.”
My jaw dropped, and for once in my life, I was speechless.
“Well, um, thanks for letting me know, Davy. I’ll speak to Daddy and get back to you, OK?”
Clicking “End,” I let loose, thunderous rumble and all. My tears were fast and furious, a maelstrom of pain, fury and indignation.
“So maybe,” I choked when I related the story to my husband, Rick, “we shouldn’t go this year. I just don’t feel very welcome.”
Rick studied me uncertainly, folding his arms across his chest and tapping his shoe against the shiny parquet floor. I leveled an angry glare straight at my unsuspecting husband, needing somewhere to vent.
A surge of sympathy spiced with regret gurgled even as I made him my target. I wasn’t being fair, and I knew it. I clenched my fists while waves of anger rushed over me. Can’t you say something? Do something? My eyes begged him to join me in my campaign.
“Do adult grandchildren’s needs really come before grandparents?” I continued, my eyes smoldering. “I’m just a little confused. A lot, actually. I always thought the older generation is to be venerated, not cast aside. I mean, isn’t that Judaism 101?”
“I’m not sure what to say,” Rick finally spoke up. “I totally hear what you’re saying. But maybe they’re afraid to rock the boat with their new son-in-law. Or maybe Rachel’s really not up to walking.”
“It’s revolting,” I spat. “I’m going to hang up my stuff and pull out the pots. We can make Passover here and save on travel expenses. Do you want to call Dave and tell him?”
Although our Passover dishes are long packed up, this is likely to be an ongoing problem for Rick and Debby. How they should handle their dilemma going forward? Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org by June 6 for publication in the next column.