Since Mother’s Day happens this month, I would like to dedicate the first two of this month’s ezines to the mothers in my family. This week, I’ll start with the Matriarch of my family, my 91-year-old grandmother, Ruth Schachter who lives in London, England. For the past fifteen years or so, I have managed to make the long journey to England on a yearly basis to spend time with my beloved grandmother. My husband has joined me for most of these visits as well and in years past, we have travelled with my grandmother to the following places: Western Ireland (all along the coast), Nice (France), Sicily (Italy), and many places across the United Kingdom.
Unfortunately, her travelling has slowed down significantly in the past couple of years but she still manages to live completely independently in her own flat in Northwest London, walks to the shops to buy groceries, and manages to get herself to and from Brighton (almost a day’s journey) to visit her youngest son once a month. She also attends classes in French, Russian, and Italian once a week- all three languages she happens to be fluent in (besides German and English which she also speaks perfectly). Oh, and she reads to a blind lady weekly as well- that is when she isn’t entertaining the flocks of visitors that appear on her doorstep on a daily basis. To say she is ‘a trooper for her age’ is most definitely an understatement.
I had the pleasure of spending a week in rainy London with my dear granny last month and as usual, it was quite eventful. She has what would be commonly called, “an open door policy” when it comes to visitors. I happen to call it, “a severe lack of boundaries” but my granny and I see the world very differently. To be honest, I wish I was more like her. She is accepting of everybody and seemingly, everything. My mother (her daughter), calls it “denial” and “post traumatic stress” resulting from surviving the holocaust-call it what you want-there is no denying the fact that granny seems a whole lot happier than the rest of us. She is one person who most definitely ‘does not sweat the small stuff’.
In my next ezine, I feature a podcast of my mother interviewing my granny about her experience of escaping the Nazis where you will learn her amazing story and perhaps understand better why she is non-plussed by most things that drive the average person (like myself) crazy…until then, I’d like to leave you with a story about my granny Ruth from the recent past that may give you some perspective on what it means to be what is often called “resilient” nowadays.
A couple of years ago, granny Ruth travelled to Amsterdam for a holiday and booked herself into a hotel. As per her usual routine, she ran a bath at around 10 p.m. and when it was full, took her latest read (she averages about one book per 2 days), and got in to soak and read. She got absorbed in her book and when she went to get out of the tub, she discovered she couldn’t manage to lift herself out. So here’s what she did: She sat there in a tub of now cold water for TEN HOURS until the maid came to clean the room-the next morning- at which time she politely asked if she could be helped out of the tub! Of course, it took her two weeks to tell us that this had happened and we were fit to be tied and incredulous. I called her as soon as I knew about it and asked her if she was okay and why she didn’t have anyone with her in case she needed assistance, etc. and she blew me off and said I was ‘making a fuss out of nothing’.
When I managed to wipe the horror out of my voice, I put on my best face and asked her calmly how she got through that terrible night. She replied instantly: “I thought to myself that I was lucky to have a light on and at least I wasn’t being tortured”. For once in my life, I was completely lost for words. Call it what you will, but one thing is for certain- my granny Ruth is one tough little woman.