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Always Open On Sundays

December 10, 2014

Remember when stores were closed on Sundays? When, if you found yourself in need of a gift, your only hope was at a gas station. Or to make something.

felice brunchThis past Sunday I volunteered at a Hanukkah brunch for Holocaust survivors. Sponsored by SelfHelp NextGen, an organization dedicated to helping survivors maintain their independence and dignity, my assignment was to chat with guests. In a brightly lit room in Gramercy Park, 80-and 90 year old men and women sat at a dozen tables, enjoying latkes and applesauce. I scanned the room for a table in need of a “young” person.

“Hi,” I said, sitting down amid four survivors. As we chatted about grandchildren, past careers and which buses they took that morning, their faces lit up. Conversation flowed as easily as the coffee. Live music filled the room, but only a handful danced, strutting their stuff as only octogenarians can.

Suddenly another volunteer appeared at my side. “If you dance, it will encourage others too,” she said. I looked across the table at my new friends. “Anyone care to dance?”

The two men passed. “Glaucoma,” they said. One woman touched her hip, but the other woman beamed. She held my hand as we danced, for comfort or maybe balance, I don’t know. I didn’t care. Despite being 88, she had the posture of a woman who knew how to carry herself, holding her head high and winking at me each time she pirouetted under my raised arm. Smiling back, I fought off tears. She was the mirror image of my late paternal grandmother.

Two hours later, the brunch over, I found myself back outside, blending in with the din of the city, and took out my cell phone.

“Hi Papa,” I said, and told him about the brunch. Only silence came back. Then a whimper. “Papa?”

“Today I’m a little depressed,” he said, his voice strained. “It happens.”

Then it was my turn to sniffle.

“I’m sorry I made you cry,” Papa said, his voice now peppier. “But it’s good to cry. It makes your heart lighter. I feel better now. Thanks for calling sveetheart.”

Today, many presents are bought on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but the most cherished gifts – a phone call, a dance, a hand being held – are still the ones that can be found any day of the week.

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12 Comments
  1. shelly1185@hotmail.com permalink

    Dear Felice,
    Another great blog. Another package of tissues used. So glad you do good things because you find the joy in them and not because you think it is the right thing to do………….love you. mom

  2. What a beautiful story. Love your Papa. CL

  3. I am not a whimp…okay I am when it comes to emotions and having a tender spot for loved ones old & new. Jumping in the shower should wash away the salty tears running down my cheeks thanks to you. I can always count on you to bring something good into my life…tears and smiles included.

  4. You’re such a beautiful writer. What a lovely story. Thinking of you and your Papa.

  5. Marilyn Solomon permalink

    What a great story teller you are. This one brought tears to my eyes. Hope to see Papa soon. I’m a little under the weather so I will wait a few days. Be well and maybe I will see you soon.

  6. cohenburkey@yahoo.com permalink

    Beautiful!

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  7. Joe permalink

    Over the years I have been through some tough times both physical and mental. But your story and your kindness brought a little pang of emotion and a tear welled up in my eye. God Bless you Felice

  8. Dana Boll permalink

    Love this… If you do it again, let me know.. I’d love to volunteer to chat. Happy Holidays!

    D

  9. Dana Arschin permalink

    love this one!!! one of my favorite posts yet! xo

  10. dmidman permalink

    Blogs like this get me right out of my own head and soften my heart. Thank you Felice. And Happy Chanukah to you and the rest of my Cohen cousins!

  11. Marisa Osorio permalink

    A beautiful post Felice. Thank you for filling my eyes with happy tears. : )

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