Changes of Life
by Elisa Berman – age 15
The car collected $200 as it passed go. I could hear the car’s engine zooming around the board. Well, I almost heard it. I was playing monopoly with my brother. I just starred at him thinking how great life is, how great spring break was going to be, and how great summer would be. I was absolutely loving life for the first time in a long time.
As you know monopoly is a long game. My family and I had about 5 or 6 hours till we had to go to the Northeast to my uncles house for Passover dinner. My brother and I were excited because we were going to see our aunts mother and son, whom we don’t see too often. Monopoly was the best idea we had to keep us busy for all that time.
Unfortunately we didn’t get too far into the Monopoly. When the phone rang it interrupted my second turn. I was sitting next to the phone, so I picked it up. I didn’t even have a chance to finish saying hello before I heard my grandmothers voice. In a sad voice she said “Elisa put your mother on the phone.” I could tell by the tone in her voice something was wrong, so I handed the phone right to my mother. She didn’t have to tell me what was wrong. In the short time they were on the phone, I put all the pieces together. My grandmother was at the Saunder’s house (the nursing home my grandfather was in) visiting my grandfather. There was only one thing that would upset her that much. It was the one thing everyone dreaded.
My grandfather had passed away. He had been sick for a long time. As a matter of fact he had been sick all my life. It wasn’t till about 3 or 4 years ago that it became so serious. He has been in and out of the hospital over those last few years. My family and I visited him almost everyday of every time he was in the hospital. Even though my family was expecting this, it struck us so suddenly. My grandmother was with him when he passed away. She was hanging up the phone with my mother when she saw him take his last breath. She didn’t know it was his last breath till after she turned back around and he wasn’t breathing at all. She ran down the hallway to find a nurse. Once the nurse confirmed it, my grandmother got right on the phone to call my mom and uncle.
I had loved my grandfather dearly. I wanted everyone to know how much I loved my grandfather, so the night before the funeral I wrote something to say at the funeral. When I stood up to make the speech many of the funeral attenders were surprised. Ever since I was little I had been a quiet, shy girl. I didn’t actually talk much at all to anybody I didn’t know very well. That had changed.
It’s funny the way things work sometimes. The doctors predicted he wouldn’t survive the weekend on Friday, March 2, 2001. My dad’s birthday was March 5. My grandfather’s birthday was March 30. My mom’s birthday was April 1. My birthday was April 3. My grandparent’s anniversary was April 4. My grandfather passed away Saturday, April 7, 2001, the first day of the ten days of spring break. It was amazing how he waited for all these birthdays including one last for him and one last anniversary with my grandmother to pass before he passed away.
My grandfather passing away affected more than friends and family. Four days before my grandfather passed away I finished my favorite class with my favorite teacher out of my ten years of school. I had this class 3rd quarter. I had Miss Erb for theater. This class was an introduction into acting. Not only does Miss Erb teach acting, but she has been in several plays. She is a very good actress. She taught this class well for her first year of teaching. When this class started I would stand up in front of my fellow class mates frozen, unable to get any words to come out. At the end of this class I still wasn’t good at doing anything in front of people, but I had more confidence, and I didn’t dread it as much. I wasn’t that shy, quiet girl anymore.
When I try to remember as far back as I can I remember helping my grandfather walk to where ever he was trying to go. He was blind and had trouble with his legs, so he always needed help. This past summer before he went into the nursing home permanently I was too lazy to help him. I always pushed helping my grandfather onto my brother. After he passed away I was thinking about how selfish I was by not helping. I felt so guilty, but there was nothing I could do to change what I had done. This is when I realized small things do matter in life.
These ten days were the hardest ten days of my life. My grandfather’s funeral was three days after he passed away because Passover interfered. On Sunday my parents, grandmother, uncle, and aunt made the arrangements for the funeral. Since the funeral was grave side, the immediate family was given a chance to see my grandfather one last time. Both my brother and I wanted to see my grandfather one last time, so the seven of us headed up to the funeral home. When I saw him it looked like he was bones covered by skin. He didn’t look like the same guy who watched me grow my hole life. I was holding my brother when I noticed he looked a little pale, so I told my dad. My dad took him out side to get some fresh air, but on the way out I saw him fall to the ground. He had been so upset over my grandfather he fainted. The day after we saw my grandfather was the funeral. We spent the night of the funeral and the next two day sitting Shiva. The next four days we spent trying to start getting use to not visiting him in the nursing home or hospital. Every time I walked into my grandmother’s house I walk over to the chair he sat in all the time, but he isn’t there.
I had survived the entire spring break and I was glad to be back in school. As glad as I was to be back in school, I wasn’t happy. I know it is normal to be sad when someone close to you passes away, but I was upset about something else also. All my friends told me how sorry they were to hear about my grandfather, but that didn’t make me feel better. I told my best friend Renee about how Miss Erb helped me. She had Miss Erb for theater first quarter. As I was telling Renee about how Miss Erb helped me I realized I was telling the wrong person. I should be telling Miss Erb how I felt.
This day is one I will never forget. Miss Erb’s first block was next door to my first block class. I walked in the classroom and asked to speak to her privately. I told her about my grandfather passing away over spring break. I told her about the speech and how I couldn’t have done it, if she hadn’t taught theater as well as she did. As I told this to Miss Erb I could feel the wet tears falling down my face. Her eyes were filled with tears. She looked like she was about to cry. When I looked at her face I could tell she understood what I was telling her. She told me how much this meant to her.
I didn’t know if Miss Erb would care or not that she helped me, but it was worth it to take a chance. One thing I learned from my grandfather passing away was little things do matter in life. This was a little chance to take, but since she did care it became bigger than I had thought. Everytime I see Miss Erb I think of the wonderful man my grandfather was. I will always be grateful for her helping me. I will never forget her.
In Loving Memory of David Daroff: (1925-2001)
by Elisa Berman – age 15