Grandma Tova

When I was three months old, my dad died, leaving behind a devastated young wife, my brother, and me. His death traumatized his mother, my Grandma Tova. Grandma was born in Latvia. She was six feet tall and her skin was always sun-tanned. Her eyes constantly reflected endless kindness yet deep sadness. She worked hard in a bakery next to the old central bus station in Tel Aviv. During my childhood, we lived in Kibbutz Givat Brener. Each month, Grandma Tova would come to visit and bring us a batch of pastries, recently baked—delicious cones filled with fresh white cream. I remember how my brother and I would wait by ‘the Iegul” (the circle), the only bus station, on Friday afternoons around 3pm, looking for her face in the bus windows. How sad we were when the last person got off the bus, and we’d realize she wasn’t coming that Friday. But on other Fridays when she did come, we were so excited to see her. She would come down the steps carefully and smile at us. Not wanting to waste any time, we shamelessly pulled the delicious cream-filled cones out of her bag. Grandma Tova never disappointed us.

~~~ — ~~~

I didn’t recognize her. She lay between the white sheets looking like a little child lost in a mirage of white desert sand. Her eyes were shut, her skin pale; there was no light in the face that rested, expressionless, on the large white pillow. This isn’t Grandma Tova, I thought. There must be a mistake! What had happened to the strong, six-foot-tall woman with tanned skin?
I felt a layer of sadness grow over my heart. Somehow, I knew she was dying. I walked to the side of her bed and held her hand, so frail and so weak. I kissed her forehead. I just couldn’t let go of her hand. Then she slowly opened her eyes, and when she saw me her eyes filled with love; she smiled.

Leave a Reply