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Flowers

Flowers

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You’re on the floor of your living room. All you wanted to do was go to the kitchen to brew yourself a hot cup of coffee. You look around. You cannot even see the kitchen. You can see your dining room. Not unlike the dining room where your Ma bentched licht (lit Shabbat candles) long ago. You can picture the candles. You may have fallen asleep. You hear the door to your apartment open.

“Ma,” gasps Renee, “what are you doing on the floor?” She comes over to you and says, “I’ll help you up.” Even with your daughter’s help, you can’t get off the floor.You’re on the floor of your living room

“Who are you calling? Don’t you dare call 911!”

Your walker has fallen beside you, but you can’t reach it. You hear the phone ring.

“Is that your sister? Tell Sandra not to call. Don’t you dare call 911!”

Men walk into your apartment carrying a stretcher.

“I’m not going to the hospital,” you say. The room looks dark.

You hear one man say, “We’ve wasted enough time. Let’s go.”

After a ride in the ambulance, such a tumult, you rest in a bed that seems comfortable.

“You have an infection,” the nurse says, “You’ll stay overnight.”

You’ve had them before and been fine. You’ll stay overnight. You can do that.

After a restless night of nurses, doctors, blood tests, you say, “I want to go home.”

The room swirls around you, so many people.

“She is agitated,” a man in white says.

You feel faint. You wake up with a huge monitor on your chest.

“You’ve had a heart attack,” a nurse says. “You have to rest in bed.”

The next morning, three doctors walk into the room.

“Leave me alone,” you say. “Last night, they promised me they wouldn’t bother me anymore.

“I don’t want breakfast.”

“What can we do to help you feel better?” a woman asks. “What if we take this equipment off and let you sit in a chair. Would you like that?”

“Okay, I’d like that.”

They help you into a chair.

“Where is the coffee? What kind of service do they have here?”

They tell you to push a button for service, and there is no coffee in the morning.

All you want to do is get to the kitchen and get a drink. That’s all you want to do.

A young man who looks like your grandson David comes into the room.

“Can I have a cup of coffee? Where is my breakfast?” you ask him. After he hands you a cup, you say, “This coffee tastes awful. I want a hot cup.”

Both of your daughters smile as they come into the room and say, “You are going to rehab.”

You pray for one more summer. You want to smell the flowers.Good, people go home from rehab

After a trip in a large car, a woman says, “My name is Carlette.

“I’ll be your nurse while you are here.”

Good, people go home from rehab.

“I want to go home,” you tell everyone who visits, but they are not taking you home. Here you sit. They hide your walker; you can’t have your hearing aid.

“Hello, what time is it?” you ask the nurse.

“It’s three in the daytime,” she answers.

“I thought it was nighttime.”

You wait in the day room for your daughters. You don’t want eggs every day for breakfast. They don’t taste like your eggs.

You don’t want to go outside onto the porch, even though your granddaughter brought your sunglasses.

Your great-grandson Jon comes, and you do not recognize him at first. You think he is his father David. Jon pats your shoulder just as you patted David when he was a baby. You feel better.

“How are your parents?” you ask a woman who looks like your daughter Sandra.

“Fine,” she answers, as she wipes away a tear. She brought food from home and tries to get you to eat.

“Don’t leave,” you say as she gets up to go.

“I have to go make dinner for tonight,” she says. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

You want to get up. You push your arms on the chair to get to your walker. You can’t get up. You push your hands onto the wheelchair as hard as you can, then fall back.

You can’t walk. You’re stuck here.

She kisses you goodbye, then walks out the door without you.

You’re alone. Home is where you want to be, where your precious things are: your mother’s ring, your husband’s tallit, the mezuzah on your doorpost. You fall asleep and dream of when you were young and helped your Ma get ready for Shabbat, kneading the challahs and cinnamon rolls in the morning. In the evening, setting the table, then watching Ma circle her small hands over the lit Shabbat candles. You pray to see and smell the flowers.

A therapist comes in and says, “Just walk over there. I’ll help you.” She helps you stand up and hold onto your walker.

At the door to your room, you see your daughters get out of the elevator with a man wearing a yarmulke.

“I can walk,” you say as you walk down the corridor.

“A miracle,” says the man with the yarmulke.

“Ma, we met Rabbi Dorf downstairs. They have Shabbat services here. He’ll make sure you come to them. You can even light candles.”

“Just walk down the hall to the porch,” the therapist says. “You’ll sit in that chair.”

“It’s too far,” you say.

“It’s okay,” she says.

“How can I sit?” you ask, as she sits you back into a chair.

The man with the yarmulke asks, “Would you like me to give you a blessing?”

“Yes.”

“What is yourYiddishe namen (Jewish name)?”

“Chia Sarah bas Chana Yentl,” answers Sandra.

As he says a Mi Shebeirach for Chia Sarah bas Chana Yentl, What is yourYiddishe namen? from your one good eye, you can see the sunlight.

“What are those?” you ask. “I smell something good.”

“Flowers,” Renee says.

“I thought so,” you say.

You can see them now. The sun feels good. G‑d has heard your prayers.

Dedicated to my mother of blessed memory, whose Yiddishe namen is Chia Sarah bas Chana Yentl.

Linda Goldberg lives in Natick, Mass., where she belongs to the Chabad Center. She founded The Metro West Writers’ Workshop and led it for 17 years. She is blessed with four grandsons.
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CM Los Angeles August 18, 2014

Truly a moving, respectful and loving piece.
Thank you for the awareness you've given us.
Your sensitivity and love make me tear.
Praying for Moshiach when we will be reunited physically with our loved ones. Reply

Anonymous August 16, 2014

What a tear jerker! Reply

leah Maryland August 15, 2014

Remarkable how you got into the mind of the elderly. As I read the article I realized that my turn to have these thoughts would be coming soon. Reply

Anonymous London, England August 15, 2014

i don't think I've read anything so moving before. You really gat me to understand what people go through at this time of life. Well done! Reply

W.L. "Zev" Wexler Brooklyn. NY August 14, 2014

IT doesn't change. Reading this in rehab while planning for the future. still can' t get a cup of real coffee (with caffeine). Thanks for some poinient moments. Reply

Anonymous florida August 13, 2014

I have been visiting my Mother, for separate stays, far too often recently in Mt. Sinai hospital. This article has strengthened my compassion, my understanding, and my love for her. May G-d bless all who who read and have a heart to hear. Reply

Anonymous August 11, 2014

Beautiful Beautiful Reply

Abby July 20, 2014

Evelyn - I had the same experience. When my grandmother passed away, no one acknowledged it. No one said, "how are you, are you ok?" No one said, "What was she like? Tell me about her." No one said, "I'm sorry for your loss." It was hurtful.

So let me say to you, I'm so sorry for the loss of your grandpa. I'm sure you miss him. Reply

Evelyn Green Canada July 20, 2014

flowers what a baeutiful article! you really got inside the mind of an elderly person.

my grampa's spirit moved on recently, and the hardest part has been the lack of acknowledgement from others. I wonder why none mentions it? Reply

Marcel Shilo Framingham July 17, 2014

my most memorable lines in this very personal and moving story trying to say good-bye to the mother you loved:

“Don’t leave,” you say as she gets up to go.
“How are your parents?” you ask a woman who looks like your daughter Hinda.
“What are those,” you ask. “I smell something good.”

“Flowers,” Rifka says.

This was the smell of Gan Eden given to those we loved when they left us and this Earth. Reply

Alisa July 2, 2014

This is a lovely story, very sensitive and perceptive. Well done. Reply

Malkah Menuchah June 30, 2014

A beautiful and moving story. You captured what she would have felt. Reply

Linda Goldberg June 30, 2014

Appreciate comments I appreciate eveyone who takes the time to comment on my story.
It is both beautiful and sad.
I started writing in my mother of blessed memory's point of view when I saw her standing in her kitchen waiting for my sister and I. We were bringing Mom to see an assisted living facility. How does she feel I wondered? How would I feel? Using the you point of view I tried to get into her thoughts; thoughts of someone who wanted to stay in her apartment. I cried when I wrote it and when I read it. Reply

Abby Stein June 29, 2014

Made me cry This article made me think of my grandmother, who passed away a year ago. Sadly, I was not able to see her for the last 6 years of her life, and only once or twice in the 3 years before that. Although she was in her 90s, I never expected she would pass on before I was able to get back and visit her. She was one of the only good people in my childhood and I miss her terribly.

She spent several chunks of time in hospitals and rehab facilities at various points, and this article made me see it from her perspective. We used to bring her lemonade and chocolate milk and other foods she liked and were easy to eat. This article made me realize that even when she was in a good facility, she probably just wanted to be back home with her black coffee, buttered bread with marmalade and crossword puzzles, which she'd sit at the window and do each day. (with the goldfish tank bubbling and canary singing in the background).

Thank you for writing this article. Reply

Rishe Deitsch Brooklyn June 26, 2014

appreciating this story Beautiful and so sad. Reply

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