Saturday, July 30, 2011

It is always good to have good friends

My grandson Matan, the eldest son of my son Danny is going to be married. Apart from the close family, the invited guests were mainly ex-soldier friends and fellow students of the couple.

The bride's family, live in the far north of the country. Near there is where the wedding is going to take place.

Not a catered affair but it was to be an all night joyful get together of young people under the stars. The brothers and friends and their uncle prepared the grounds days beforehand, brought straw mats, mattresses, pillows and low tables for the wedding feast. Lighting and all the necessary trimmings were being taken care of by them.

My son, his wife and her mother and sister who arrived specially for this joyous occasion from the States will spend the night after the wedding in a hotel nearby, in Miilia, a Christian Arab Village.

What about me? I need my bed and my bathroom for my personal comfort. We cast around for somebody to accompany me, drive me there and back to Jerusalem, most of those asked being engaged otherwise.

While mentioning my needs to a couple of friends from Austria, a schoolteacher and a school director, who come every year to Jerusalem to volunteer for a couple of weeks in old age homes, they immediately volunteered to do this service for me. They had a rented car and had never been to an Israeli wedding and were free on that day.

Danny printed out the exact route for them. He suggested we leave at 13.00 o'clock to hopefully avoid the traffic jams.

My friends, while driving through the lower and western Galilee, were astonished at the beautiful countryside that so far they had never seen. We stopped at the hotel in Maiilia for a drink under an Olive tree and a change of clothes. From there, with the rest of the family we drove through the village and via an unpaved dirt road the prepared wedding site.

An unusual beautiful view awaited us, to the north the mountains of Lebanon and to the west a glorious sunset over the Mediterranean Sea. With that as a backdrop at around 19.00 hours the traditional "Chupa" (Baldachin) ceremony, conducted by the local Rabbi took place. The other grandmother and I, (holding on to Danny's hand) were privileged to stand with the parents under the Chupa. Everything was beautiful orchestrated. After the ceremony the young people danced, dined and wined and a good time was had by all.

For me it was a real pleasure, see all my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren participating at this special occasion and introduce them to my friends, who kept taking photos and taking it all in as a very unusual and special treat for them.

The all night feast was at its heights, but for us it was getting late. We quietly said good bye and in the dark night carefully navigated our way home, arriving well after midnight in Jerusalem.

How good it is to have good friends.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Getting rid of extra baggage

Growing old can become pretty complicated when illness strikes. While recuperating I had to find ways to ease life. My desk and shelves were so cluttered that I could hardly find what I was looking for. Being practically homebound and having help coming in, I used the opportunity to clear up, clear out and throw out, tons of paper and extra baggage.

I had kept handouts from seminars and workshops or international conferences that I had given or attended, there was much background material that I had collected for writing articles or preparing my presentations. Over the last few years I had just made piles of it, left it on my desk, as the shelves were overflowing with files.

My help pulled out pile after pile, I sorted it out and threw away most of it, print outs, old magazines, and what else had accumulated.

When this was done I did the same with my paintings. For the last twenty year I had painted once a week. My walls are adorned by my paintings, others that had been framed to hang in exhibitions, while most of them were just accumulating in a box under the bed. I found an art student (future) who took a great many of them for reuse, as well as half empty tubes of paint, charcoal, and what else I no longer needed.

Slides? Who takes slides today? When many years ago I traveled with a backpack to Asia, Africa or to America and Europe, on my return I gave slid shows in clubs and old age homes as well as to travelers to be. Hundreds of them were standing around neatly stacked and marked, together with the projector and nobody needs or wants them. Out they go. Once upon a time I also had my own darkroom and enlarging apparatus. That too had to go.

Slowly I have more breathing space, but still much more to sort out give away or throw out.

As I shrink with old age, my world shrinks, but my memories, at least the long term memory is still intact. Looking back I enjoy having lived an interesting life.

Sorting out and throwing out what no longer is relevant, is part of the survival tactics. The less baggage you have, the easier it is to survive in old age.