Hello and Goodbye

Have you ever counted how many times per day you say hello or goodbye to people? Think about it. Answering the phone; texting; greeting a salesperson upon entering a store; welcoming a visitor to your home; leaving a party; and on and on. Through the course of one day alone, it all can add up to a pretty large number. Right?

The bigger question, however, is this. When you offer your hellos or goodbyes, do you ever wonder whether this particular encounter with this specific person could be your last?

* * *

This weekend, I flew down to Florida to visit with my parents and grandparents. (It was an added bonus that my brother, sister-in-law, and nephews also were in town.) Friday and Saturday were holidays, the last two days of Passover, so it was the perfect opportunity to hang out with the other end of the age spectrum. (I was with my kids last weekend.) And, despite the food restrictions, the visit was pretty typical. We hung out at the pool for hours; caught up on family happenings and gossip; enjoyed large-group family meals; and relaxed in each other’s company. It was lovely.

At the age of fifty-four, I know that I am fortunate that both of my parents are alive. My dad is seventy-six and my mom is seventy-five. But, even more incredible is the fact that I still have two grandparents.

My mother’s parents are ninety-seven and ninety-six. My faithful readers know, from different blog posts I’ve written over the years, how much I love, respect, and have learned from these two special people…Holocaust survivors who almost didn’t survive their twenties. I’ve had many opportunities during the course of my life to live with and visit with them, and never tire of hearing their stories, complaints, or philosophies. As the eldest grandchild, I truly have been privileged to have them for all of these years.

This morning, we kicked off our last day of the weekend with breakfast at the Original Pancake House, which happens to be my grandparents’ favorite “go to” restaurant. (Although the food is far from gourmet, we willingly appease them.) From there we took them back to their condo, looked through some old family photos, and prepared to say our goodbyes.

But this goodbye didn’t feel like the so-many-other-goodbyes. My grandparents’ frailness was apparent this weekend. I finally noticed just how very old they are. Diminished eyesight and the loss of hearing have isolated them from the active lives they once led. The deaths of siblings and close friends have made their own mortality a frightening reality. Daily enjoyments only come from the occasional outing (mostly to doctors appointments) or from visits and phone calls. How many days or weeks or months or years do they really have left?


As my grandmother hugged and kissed me goodbye, she started to cry. Of course, I did too. I felt like my heart was breaking. I promised to return in August for my grandfather’s ninety-eighth birthday. (Crap, I thought through my tears, that’s still three-and-a-half months away!) I promised to call more than once a week between now and then. I made her promise that this was not “goodbye,” but rather “see you soon.”

I didn’t want to go, but had to. I left with a horrible feeling. This goodbye definitely didn’t feel like past goodbyes. I never realized how previously nonchalant I’ve been about departing from my grandparents…not to mention countless others. I never thought about the importance of making each and every hello and goodbye matter. I never again will take these moments for granted. 

I pray this wasn’t our last goodbye. 

2 thoughts on “Hello and Goodbye

  1. Hi That was excellent writing I know how you feel I can’t believe it’s almost a year since my dad passed on May 23 I think Sonia is also thinking of that Send my love to everyone Love and kisses Allen

    Sent from my iPhone



  2. We went through this every time we visited Allan’s grandparents in Florida. I barely knew them, but they were a big presence in Allan’s life because they all lived together for many years. I’m sure they were special people and I know they were well loved.

    I had a unique relationship with one of his aunts, affectionately known as Aunt B. We were as close as any mother and daughter could be, even though we lived miles apart. She was the major reason for our moving to Rockland. For 19 years no trip to Florida would be complete w/o a sleepover in the Keys ( which according to her, was never long enough)

    She passed last December on Xmas Day, 10 days after her 95th birthday. It was like losing a mother for the second time.. No amount of years would have been enough. I miss her every day, but especially on Fridays, when we wished each other a Shabbot Shalom.

    As you know, your Bubba and Zayde have included us as part of their family since we met them at Rabbi Craig’s Bar Mitzvah. We love them dearly and make it a priority to see them every winter, sometimes at the expense of your parents, whom we still consider very close friends.

    We humans are so lucky to have memories. No one can ever take them away. And we are extra lucky because we have such special ones!

    (Forgive my rambling….but you really struck a chord)

    Love You All

    Liked by 1 person

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