Marriage is forever, isn’t it? But what happens when he is living in a nursing home, incapacitated and she is wheelchair bound at home? After 63 years of marriage are they never to see each other again?
“After fourteen concentration camps, my wife is my whole world,” he says. “I long to spend time together but I am imprisoned in an aged body.”
Eons ago, they used to be young. They both loved the beach. He used to surf and was quite good at it. And so they dreamed. Separately. Alone. Until Ezer Mizion came into the picture.
It would be like years ago. A date. On the beach. Like when they were young, Like their courtship days.
Logistics are never easy. It required two Ezer Mizion ambulances, each fitted to accommodate a wheelchair. It required trained drivers who are able to handle the disabled safely and with care and respect. It required finding a suitable beach. It required an empty slot in Ezer Mizion’s tightly scheduled Make-A-Wish program. So many requirements but Ezer Mizion staff was determined and the holocaust survivors’ ‘date’ became a reality.
And so there they were, “strolling” along the boardwalk, watching the surfers, reliving their younger days together. They talked and talked, sharing memories, catching up on each other’s lives. They laughed at the antics of the surfers, recalling the days when he rode the surf. Once again they felt the sun’s rays, listened to the pounding of the waves, smelled the ocean spray…together.
An Ezer Mizion outing would not be complete without a delectable meal to go with it. Lunch at the Shaltele Restaurant overlooking the sea topped off their date. They chose all their favorites ending off with an ice cream sundae with all the trimmings. It was a beautiful day. Neither one wanted it to end. But the memories will chase away the loneliness for months to come.
Ezer Mizion’s One Wish Program offers the elderly holocaust survivor the opportunity to choose an event they wish to experience, something they can look forward to. The requests are as varied as the people who make them. It may be a visit to the Kosel, a tour of the old neighborhood, a trip to Tzfas. It may be an opinion regarding entertainment at the facility in which they reside. Ezer Mizion receives requests from social workers or family members of lonely, disabled, holocaust survivors throughout Israel. After reviewing the requests, Ezer Mizion coordinates the logistics of making these dreams come true.
Many of today’s Holocaust survivors are confined to facilities, lonely and isolated. They suffered indescribable trauma in their early childhood and youth. As people age they face loss. Loss of their independence, of their faculties, of their standing in the community. Slowly they shrivel, even losing their sense of self. Our goal is to revive their spirit, ignite their feeling of self-worth, and encourage them to delve below the dust that has gathered and realize that their wants, their opinions matter. This, we hope, will renew their vitality and empower them by enhancing their sense of self-worth.
Approximately 570 wishes will be fulfilled this year. The senior is heavily involved in the planning and receives a lovely album of pictures after the Big Day. The anticipation beforehand coupled with the memories following will infuse our precious survivors with emotional energy, healing, hope and happiness.
Ezer Mizion provides services to over 660,000 of Israel’s population annually in addition to its Bone Marrow Registry which saves the lives of Jewish cancer patients the world over.