Saturday, January 18, 2014

Caretakers, singers and others

My married-to-a-Morroccan daughter was instructing me on how to roast chicken:

"Ashkenazim roast at 165 c but Sephardim roast chicken for 2 hours at 200 c."

I thought I had heard it all and knew all the differences between our communities, but this is definitely a new one for the books.

And then it gotme to thinking about other communities, the non-Jews working here as caregivers.

You see, my next door neighbor has Alzheimers, and I had no idea of this until about 2 years ago when she buzzed my door and said she didn't know how to get into her apartment. Hubby and I instructed her step by step to look into her purse for her keys and then we took the keys from her to open her door. She thanked us profusely as if we were rocket scientists and did the impossible for her. We got ahold of her son who told us tearfully that she had Alzheimers and it wasn't long before she had a young caretaker from the Philippines living with her.

I didn't really have much contact with the new caregiver. Just a few smiles and thank you's when we borrowed stuff from each other. When the typhoon hit the Philippines earlier this past year, I was worried about her family, but they lived far away from the disaster. I was relieved.

This past week, I heard my doorbell ring 10 times, like someone was agitated. I thought it was the ultra-Orthodox beggars coming to ask for money again. But when I looked through the peephole, I saw it was Donna, my neighbor's caregiver.

"Can you please fix my television? I really want to see the X-Factor and it doesn't work by me."

Of course, she needed to see the Israeli version of that show. From the Philippines, Rose Fontanes was the finalist in the Israeli X-Factor, who had a deeply beautiful voice. She hadn't been living in the best of circumstances. With Jewish immigrants to Israel, it's difficult enough, so imagine the difficulty 10-fold for non-Jews. She was living in a cramped apartment in Tel Aviv with 7 other people. But she instilled a sense of pride in other caregivers like her and everyone from the Philippines was rooting for her.


So there I was in her living room, the remote control was in Hebrew so I changed it to English, but the channel itself was not working, much to her dismay. I definitely understood her angst. I remember as a teenager, my dad not letting me watch the Beatles or any one of them on a show if it was on the Sabbath, which made me sneak out to a neighbor during on a Friday night to watch, because I had to. I just had to.

So with her charge sleeping blissfully, I invited her across the hall to my apartment where we could watch it together. She was so delighted and I felt like I was saving her life. "Are you sure? Don't you need to go to sleep? Are you sure?"

Sure I'm sure.

We munched on chips and drinks and heard Rose sing a couple of songs but Donna wouldn't stay for the results, and said she would find it on the internet later on. So I hung on to watch it for her and celebrated Rose's victory in Donna's absence.

1 comment:

wlotus said...

You are a wonderful neighbor.