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Again, Alone in Haifa Israel.

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By Sharon Amov and Earl Shugerman: Sharon is an eighty six year old widow and recent immigrant to Israel. I immigrated to Israel at the age of fifty nine alone as well. She is from California. My home was in Colorado. Below Sharon tells her story.

My dear husband died a few years ago. I was desolate. The loneliness was overwhelming. I missed him terribly. For many years I struggled to regain my balance, and then I decided to move to Israel, to live near my daughter and family. They made aliyah or immigration to eretz Israel fifteen years ago.

I remember my flight to Israel, peering out of the airplane window, viewing the outline of Israel’s shoreline. Many people in the plane were clapping as we approached the landing field. My response was a combination of quiet joy and apprehension.

“What will it be like to actually LIVE in Israel” I thought to myself? I have visited my daughter and my family s often, but always with my husband. To reside alone in Israel….although I had made the decision seemed absolutely unreal to me.

Southern California was my home since birth. I was eighty-four years of age and frightened. Terrified might be a better description.

My daughter and son-in-law would be waiting for me in the public area. I picked up my luggage and off I went to my uncertain future.

There she was, my one and only daughter….waving at me, all smiles. Perhaps she expected me to be exactly as she had last seen me, a year or so ago. And I expected her to be as I had last seen her. Oh our expectations–how very difficult, if not impossible to meet.

How unprepared I was for the depth of pain, separation from relatives in the United States, and lifetime friends, along with familiar voices and places. I missed the beautiful beaches, the familiar shopping malls, and even the traffic jams at rush hour.

We manage to arrive at the car in the airport parking lot, numb with our own overwhelming feelings. We drove to the nice little house that my daughter and son-in-law had prepared for my arrival. The physical work of making a house into a home ahead lay ahead of me. The mental and emotional work would be a daily project.

I plopped right down in the middle of relationships and lives that have been going on without me for fifteen years. I knew that my main priority would be to keep myself separate and still stay close to my loved ones. How very difficult that is especially in a new homeland.

We went for a drive, to once again see the lovely Israeli countryside. I lost my way in the twisting roads, unfamiliar buildings and lush green fields. The people seemed helpful but not overly friendly.

We returned ‘HOME’. I sat alone and the enormity of my move to Israel engulfed me. How would I find a comfortable place within my family again? How would I make new friends, develop interests and start anew at my ageWell, we shall see what the future shall bring.

However, in the meantime, here I am again, alone.

Alexa, The Perils of Youth and Old Age.

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My friend Alexa and I were sitting at my favorite cafe in Haifa, the Kapiot café, discussing my concerns about my age related tipshoot (silly) behavior. I turned sixty five in April. The once twenty minute walk to the cafe now takes thirty. It is more due to the fact that I almost always seem to forget something than physical conditioning. I forgot my ex- wife’s birthday for the first time in March. It was on my calendar which I neglected to review. Beautiful young women like Alexa now seem like granddaughters of grade school age. My once healthy appetite for dining has greatly dissipated. Alexa tried to reassure me that things are not as bleak as they seem. “Earl, I do silly things at my age,” she mused. She blames her mistakes on being twenty. My buddy is just finishing her military service with the Israeli Army. Alexa recounted this sad tale: 


“I arrived at the Haifa Lev Hamifratz bus station at 7:00 AM this morning. The second that I stepped out of the bus I realized that I won’t be getting to Tel Aviv as planned. The special bus lines that they bring in for soldiers, which I was hoping to board, are only relevant on Sundays. After a short calculation I discovered that today was NOT a Sunday, but a Tuesday. Boarding a train wasn’t an option either, as the same rule applies. That was stupid act number one!

I hesitated for a while, shifting my weight on the platform from one foot to another like a ballerina on a warm up. I decided to go to Jerusalem in a hope of catching the 8:45 AM bus to my army base. Two minutes after departure, I realized that I could board a train to Tel Aviv. Since, again, it was not a Sunday (and the public transportation restrictions for soldiers only extend as far as Sundays). Ouch, I goofed again!

My arrival at Jerusalem was at 9:30 AM. The central bus station doesn’t quite look and smell like a daisy field of lovely blossoms, but it’s still better than Tel Aviv’s balagan (mad house) of crazy people looking like convicted murderers, blood curdling music and nauseating, poisonous food. I was already quite upset about the earlier degradation in my brain activity, and the fact that I missed the bus didn’t help lifting up my spirits. To summarize: I was frustrated, and had loads of time to spare till the next bus to the base (12:45 PM), I was starting to feel hungry. It was a very grim looking state of affairs indeed.

But, of course, a brave young soldier wouldn’t let minor misfortunes discourage her. I decided to find a place to sit and roll a cigarette. Humming the “Two and a Half Men” opening theme, I rolled a beautiful cigarette that could be the envy of many addicts. I took a moment to glow with pride in my ever-expanding skill.

Still humming, I went out to the platform to smoke this work of art. There were herds of people outside, many of them soldiers. I smoked quietly oblivious to the rumblings of the world around me.

Upon finishing the cigarette, I approached the door and pushed it. However, to my genuine amazement, it didn’t budge. Perfect! I thought to myself, and tried to push it again. Being a rational, quick-witted adult, I reckoned this might be a pull door and not a push door. Therefore, I started looking feverishly for a handle that I could pull. It was then that I heard it.

“Are you getting tired yet”, a voice called to me from behind. I turned to the left to discover an amused looking ‘Magav’ soldier who was following my actions with a look full of wonder. He might have been a child witnessing the fireworks for the very first time.

“Yes…looks like I don’t even have enough strength to push the damned door.” I cracked something that was meant to be a charming smile, but it turned out to look more like a grimace. He smiled and took a sip from his coke.

“Yeah…well, it’s a window, not a door”, he pronounced. “Try the one to your right.” Once again I committed a mental folly.

I blinked at him. For all I knew, he could have just said that a pair of unicorns was giving free haircuts outside the station. Looking to my right I saw a doorknob, a door! I swallowed and pulled it, deciding not to speak for a while. Should I crawl away and hide somewhere? Yes, that would be the right thing to do.

So here I am now… humming no more, feeling like the most mentally challenged creature on the planet. When did this start happening? When did I go all foolish like this? How many people have noticed?

I think I should stop going outside, unless absolutely necessary, I should wear a sign around my neck saying: “dangerous when thinking”. It might clear up lots of confusion…”

I listened to her quietly, when a smile crossed my face. Age has always been a troubling issue. You could be in a place in your life when you’re longing to grow up, or quite the opposite – you might have just started thinking about striking a deal with the devil to stop the time from seeping right through your fingers. There is no way around it, since we live on borrowed time and our days are numbered. But upon hearing this amusing story, I came to think that perhaps the only thing we could do to make the living meaningful, is to trick time. Do things inappropriate of your age – eat a steak at 10 AM in the morning, pull a push door, be that strange bird that just wouldn’t sit on the perch assigned to it. Be twenty at the age of sixty, be that child that nobody believed you could be. It might just make your sun shine brighter.


Thank you, Alexa, for reassuring me that we all have our weak moments and that age may not be the only issue in my case.