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“Caller – Are You There?”

on June 27, 2013 in New To You

Dear That’s Life,
I think my Bubby called my cell phone last shabbos.

The first problem is that she did not leave a message so I do not know for sure. The second issue is that she died 14 years ago. Ironically, the issue of her calling on shabbos is actually not a problem at all.

While many would contend that their bubby was the best in the world, that’s only because they may not have known mine. Tootsie Eisenberg, as she was affectionately known, was a lady amongst ladies. She and my Poppy enjoyed a storybook love and marriage that served as a paradigm for all who knew them. And they absolutely, positively adored their grandchildren.

Nary a day passes that I don’t think of her in one way or another. It could be seeing a yellow Shop Rite bag that triggers a memory, as she used them to double wrap food before sticking it in the freezer. Or maybe it’s that when I call my daughter’s name that I think of Bubs, because my daughter is named for her. One of the nicest parts of carrying on a name is building in that daily opportunity to reflect, even for a moment, on a loved one you’ve lost.

I went to Israel to see her just days before she died. Frail and far from the once vibrant woman whose powerful, loving hugs could actually squish your internal organs, I showed her a picture of my baby. “I did good,” I said, trying to be cute. “Right, Bubs?” “You did well,” she responded. That was the last thing she ever said to me. Yes: right before she died, my Bubby corrected my English.

Since her passing, I have been convinced that Bubby has contacted me from beyond. These occurrences have come in the form of strange coincidences or random events that simply have no business of ever happening otherwise. At one point I did not hear from her for years. In the last few months, however, I have heard from her twice – one time being last shabbos morning when I’m convinced she called my cell phone.

Now, I know what you’re thinking because I have heard it before. Coincidences are just coincidences and reading into them is foolish. Anything can be seen as a sign, if that is how one chooses to interpret it when, in fact, it may mean absolutely nothing.

On the other hand, signs are there to be read by those who have their eyes open – by those who want to see. If that means that I see my Bubby in places that are actually meaningless simply because I choose to see her there, then that is my choice. I believe that her love for me and mine for her extends beyond mortality. So, sue me – I miss my Bubs.

The two most recent events, however, are hard to just write off. Even the greatest cynic or naysayer will note these examples are weird, even if just to himself. The bottom line is that both actually happened and more than one person was around when they took place. Read into them what you want, or choose not to read into them at all.

A few months ago I was looking through a few old photo albums in our home office with some of my children. The office has two doors, one that leads to the hallway and one for the bathroom,. Sifting through the pictures, I came across one of Bubby, and remarked to my kids that I had not “heard” from her in a while. “Hi, Bubs, ” I said, while looking at the picture and running my fingers across her face. All of a sudden, she spoke.

“Hello?” said a voice. And with that, we froze.

Busy trying to catch our breath, we looked nervously at each other. The bathroom door then unexpectedly opened. My daughter – the one named for my Bubby – walked into the room. She had been the voice we heard and was awaiting a response, but we were stunned silent. No one knew she was in there. No one could figure out why she said “Hello” of all things, such a strange utterance when we weren’t even talking to her or aware she of her presence. But there we were, having all shared the same experience, unable to articulate exactly what happened, agreeing however that there was only one answer: Bubby.

Ah, yes. I hear the non-believers in the crowd rolling their eyes, ignoring the sign, brushing it off as a coincidence. That, again, is your choice. The next story, however, is harder to ignore.

I rarely if ever leave my phone in the kitchen over shabbos to charge. Even rarer is when I forget to shut it off. Last week, however, I did both and my phone remained in my kitchen, plugged into the wall, on. It was on shabbos morning that it rang, startling me as I sat on the couch. If the house phone rings on shabbos or on a chag, we attribute it to a telemarketer or maybe a wrong number. But my cell phone? That was simply too odd and I leapt off the couch to investigate.

The number was not familiar, but the city and state where the call originated from was. My mother grew up in Bayonne, N.J., the place where my grandparents raised a family and where my Bubby lived most of her life. It is the city we associate with my maternal side of the family, often joking that all roads lead to Bayonne. And it seemed that someone from Bayonne was calling me that morning on a day she knew I would never pick up – and there was no voicemail left by the caller in an effort to have me call back. But of course there wasn’t.

I didn’t bother checking or dialing the number. There was no point – I knew who had called, even if the call was a wrong number. Regardless of what the actual reason was for my phone to ring, I knew what had happened. The sign was as clear as day.

I saw my mother the next day. She usually ignores me when I say crazy things, or when I am convinced her mother is sending me messages from the next world.

“Bubby called me on shabbos,” I said. “What?!” she replied in confusion. I explained. “See?” I said, showing her the call log on my phone. “A call from Bayonne – on shabbos!” I smiled. “It’s got to be Bubby,” I said. She, however, wasn’t buying it. Not because she did not believe my grandmother was sending me signals – we never even got that far. Glancing at the log, she quickly dismissed my entire theory.

“That wasn’t even her number,” she said, handing me back the phone.

Nope. You just can’t make this up.


More Than Words

on June 5, 2013 in New To You

Dear That’s Life, It’s fair to say I’m often unable to correctly spell or even define the winning word in the Scripps National Spelling Bee. But this year, when a 13- year old boy of Indian descent from Queens, NY correctly spelled ‘knaidel’ and with that won the national championship, I got it right. Arguments [...]


Life Has Not Changed a Bit

on March 11, 2013 in My Kids, New To You

Dear That’s Life, There is a comfort in knowing that crazy still follows me everywhere, even after 5 months of radio silence. I know: I have been rather delinquent about posting to my blog. And I apologize. But thanks to recent events, I have made time to actually sit down at my computer and do [...]


It’s MIRAM, Stupid.

on November 29, 2012 in New To You

Dear That’s Life, I know I have written about my name before. And I know many of you are sick of hearing me complain about how people mispronounce my name and how much it bothers me because they butcher your name even worse than they do mine (see: my brother, Ranon). I was particularly perplexed [...]


Here Comes the Sun

on November 14, 2012 in New To You

Dear That’s Life, You know life has changed when my toddler tells her Morah (teacher) that I did not bring her to school that morning because, “[Mommy] is on line for gas” – and that is a completely acceptable answer, even to my daughter. It has been almost four weeks since I last posted, with [...]


Oh, Just Be Quiet.

on October 24, 2012 in New To You

Dear That’s Life, I often hear words or phrases coming out of my children’s mouths that I know I have said myself. Sarcastic tone, excellent timing and pitch perfect, it is as if I am a ventriloquist, able to throw my voice and have it come out of the mouths of babes. It is when [...]


Lights, Camera, Action? No, Thank you.

on October 11, 2012 in New To You

Dear That’s Life, Without exaggeration, I have heard the line “You guys should really have a reality TV show” no less than five times over the last few weeks. From different people under varying circumstance, it seems people around me are being entertained by my life, regardless if I find the moment entertaining or not [...]


The Shy and Petite Elf

on September 28, 2012 in My Kids

Dear That’s Life, I have been called a lot of things over the years, some of which I can put in print and some of which I cannot. Either way, no matter what someone has said, I have never been referred to as “shy” nor have I been called “petite” and certainly not “dainty”. Leave [...]


Hurricane Miriam. Literally.

on September 28, 2012 in Crazy Follows Me Everywhere

Dear That’s Life, There is much preparation done for Yom Kippur, despite the fact that the holiday is food-free. Getting in the correct mind-set to face one’s Maker on the holiest day of the year is not something to take lightly. Entering the sanctuary, with people dressed in white and the fast having just started, [...]


Happy Birthday to Me

on September 14, 2012 in New Yorkers

Dear That’s Life, I have been convinced for years that my birthday brought with it very bad karma. If something bad didn’t occur on the actual date, it happened near or around it. This kept up for a while and culminated with the tragic events of 9/11. Although I knew none of this was actually [...]


Being Bold

on September 14, 2012 in New Yorkers

Dear That’s Life, With Rosh Hashannah approaching, the time for self introspection and review of the year past is very much upon us. And as I consider the last twelve months, I lose count of the blessings and opportunities I have been given because there are many. Someone recently told me that G-d must really [...]


Better Late Than Never: Thank You, Ira and Mindy

on September 6, 2012 in New To You

Dear Mindy and Ira, Having been given the opportunity to attend Championsgate again this year, my husband Stephen and I decided to extend our trip to Orlando and enjoy a mini-vacation. While visiting Disney’s EPCOT Center, we met a remarkable woman from Wales and her mother – a happenstance interaction with complete strangers which reinforced [...]


Animal People

on September 6, 2012 in New Yorkers

Dear That’s Life, As a child, I had always wanted a pet. Not looking for a fish or anything else I could not take for a walk, I asked my parents for a dog. “When you move out,” they said, insinuating that as long as I was living under their roof, it would not happen. [...]


Bang Your Head Here

on August 24, 2012 in Crazy Follows Me Everywhere

Dear That’s Life, Sunday’s events would have made for a great column. I had adamantly and furiously insisted my husband wear a tuxedo to a wedding I was convinced was “black tie,” only to arrive at the hall and see that only he, and the wait staff, were dressed alike. It was not one of [...]


Once in a Lifetime? Not.

on August 24, 2012 in Crazy Follows Me Everywhere

Dear That’s Life, It is official: the summer is over. It might sound harsh, and you may not have wanted to hear it, but it is the truth. Do not let the humidity or the heat fool you. All the plans I had for my summer are over and each conversation I have about the [...]


“Smoking Gun…or Knife”

on August 10, 2012 in Crazy Follows Me Everywhere

Dear That’s Life, In the interest of full disclosure, I would like to reassure everyone – including members of the TSA – that I have no additional travel plans for months. The longest journey I expect to take for a while is from Long Island to my office in Jersey City, and even that I [...]


Is This Your Bag?

on August 2, 2012 in Crazy Follows Me Everywhere

Dear That Life, A friend of mine who travels often has a firm belief when it comes to going through security at the airport. Whatever they ask of him, he does. Though it might make no sense and may be an inconvenience, he knows that it is ultimately for his own good. The TSA agents [...]


Keeping My Eyes on the Prize

on July 27, 2012 in My Kids

Dear That’s Life, There is something about landing in Tel Aviv with a group of 35 Jews who have never been to Israel before and having them welcomed in German because we flew Lufthansa. There is also something to landing in Munich on a stopover to Tel Aviv with a group of 35 Jews who [...]


It’s Not Over Yet

on July 24, 2012 in My Kids

Dear That’s Life, With my oldest three children in sleep away camp, our home is quite different during the summer. I would say it is quieter, but that would be an exaggeration. I will say that the house settles down earlier in the day than it usually does, as my younger three children go to [...]


Vocabulary Lesson

on July 6, 2012 in My Kids

Dear That’s Life, A close friend of mine recently put his oldest on the bus to sleep away camp. This was their first time sending a child away to camp and it was initially unclear who was going to fall apart first – the parents or the child. Within a few minutes, however, the winner [...]

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