Monday, November 15, 2004

A Surprise at Paul's Run

Bubby turned to look at us as we came in. We all took our seats around the table to talk with her, even though as soon as we left those seats she would forget we were there.

My dad smiled. "Hi Mom, remember your grandson?"

As if we were long-time friends who had not seen each other in years.

I smiled nonetheless, and she looked at me and said "Oh yes, look at that fersnacker. That fersnacker fer nacker snacker and we went downtown and got the tajigat and the tajigati taj."

She had a complication of Alzheimer's which stole from her the ability to form English words, leaving in its place a gibberish engine which was obviously working overtime.

"Bubby, how are you?" I asked politely.

"Oh, I gaterat my gaterat and gaterat."

I stifled a laugh. I felt bad as soon as I remembered the seriousness of the situation.

A man was sitting to her left, his head lolling on his chest and drool slowly emanating from the corner of his mouth. He stared at me with an empty, unblinking gaze. Feeling uncomfortable, I asked "Can I help you?"

He continued to stare, then uttered something unintelligible. I focused on my grandmother again. She was speaking nonsense to my father, who looked as if he was taking in every word and carefully considering its value.

I sighed. These visits were always tedious, but for some reason today all I wanted to do was leave.

The man started grumbling again. He had dropped his shoe on the ground. I reached down to pick it up, and handed it back to him. He placed it in his lap and glazed over again. He grumbled once again.

I looked back at Bubby, who was now forcing down a piece of pumpkin pie. The man began to stare at the pumpkin pie. Bubby began talking as soon as the pie was down, but the man gave a sudden, clarifying interruption.

"Mrrmrmrmrrrrmr...mrrrrWILL YOU SHUT UP!"

Silence followed. Bubby turned very slowly to look at him. Her brow furrowed and I feared for what was about to come.

She opened her mouth, which previously had procured nothing but pure nonsense, and began to speak.

"Vus vils du? VUS VILS DU?"

My dad suddenly laughed out loud. I turned to him with confusion. Between bouts of laughter he explained to me that she was speaking perfect Yiddish, and asking the man, in essence, what the hell he was doing.

I had new respect for Bubby after that.

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