“Hello, Ezer Mizion calling…”
My knees buckled. My blood ran cold. Mentally, I counted my kids. I had just spanked my two-year-old for running in the street yesterday. Did he…? Is he…? Or Mimi? Was all that howling about a stomachache more than just a ploy to skip school? Are they operating now? Did they catch it in time? Or maybe it’s Daniel. I always told him not to climb…or Avi or…
“Thank you for registering as a volunteer driver. We need you to do a pick up today.”
The knees straighten up and the blood flows smoothly again. I had forgotten about my registration. Thank G-d, all is well with my family. But for another family, all is not well at all. The caller gives me the details. It’s two little girls.
I drive to their home and the two little girls jump into the car with a whoop and buckle their seatbelts.
“Someone is sick in our family. That’s why we get a ride from Ezer Mizion,” the bouncy one volunteered.
“It’s our father,” explained the older one, looking excited and angry all at once. “He doesn’t have the hurting kind of sickness like a sore throat. He has men…men…”
“Mental illness,” the little one finished for her. “He stays in the house all the time smoking cigarettes. It makes me so mad. It’s like I don’t have a real Abba.”
“I feel bad for him,” adds the older one vacillating between anger and the love she barely remembered.
“Me, too. But I also feel bad for us. Our Abba doesn’t know how to talk or read or anything. I just finished first grade and I can read better than my Abba.”
“Sometimes I get scared. He used to take me for a walk and I would hold his hand and feel safe. Now sometimes Mommy asks me to take care of him! It’s scary taking care of an Abba.”
“I like going in Ezer Mizion cars. Ezer Mizion people take care of us. It’s like you’re our Abba”
“I sometimes do homework with my Abba. He forgets the words and I help him remember how to write them. He used to play school with me and make believe he forgot how to write. It was fun playing teacher and giving him homework to do. My Mommy says I should play school like we used to but this is not fun at all. Sometimes I run away and hide when it’s time for Abba’s homework.”
“He’s learning fast. He knows a lot of letters already,” says the older one loyally. “And in arithmetic, he‘s really good.”
“Abba used to take us to the zoo. That was so much fun. Now Abba can’t take us anywhere. He’s afraid he won’t know which bus to get on or even which house to come back to. Imagine not knowing your own house! He doesn’t even know his address so he can’t even ask someone for directions.”
“Abba used to do the shopping for Shabbos. He would buy me licorice-the red kind- ‘cause that’s my favorite. Now he can’t go to the grocery store. He doesn’t know our credit card number and he would get all mixed up about what to buy. I think- I think he even forgot that red licorice is my best candy. My friend’s mother gave me some last Shabbos but it’s not the same. I want my Abba to buy it for me! My Abba-not my friend’s Abba!”
“Abba makes Kiddush. He never, ever, ever forgets how to make Kiddush. He’s like a real Abba when he makes Kiddush. Sometimes I close my eyes during Kiddush and make believe that I live in a regular house with a regular family. It’s the best time of the week.”
The next best time is at Ezer Mizion. Nice people talk to us and we play games. They take care of us and they…they love us.”
The car door opened and two little girls bounced out, albeit with a few bumps in their bounce. An Ezer Mizion staff member welcomed them as they entered a world where all was secure.
“That man was nice,” I heard them say. “He took care of us.”
The staff member held their little hands. I watched as the Ezer Mizion door closed, locking out all the monsters.
For further info: ezermizion.org