Weekend at Bubbys

Okay, so it wasn’t a weekend it was Sunday – Tuesday but Weekend at Bubby’s sounds better so we’re just gonna proceed anyways.

It’s been a yearly tradition that I visit my Bubby in Florida every summer ever since I was 16. Some years it would be me and my mom, sometimes me and my sister or brother. It’s always been a good time for those who follow my Bubbyisms on Facebook.

Some past classic Bubbyisms include:

“Do you know why Hurricane Katrina happened, Aviva? Because girls like you wear short skirts!”

“Stop singing! (“Why Bubby? You don’t like my voice?”) Well, Yes and no. No you don’t have a good voice and yes I didn’t want to hurt your feelings,”

“You’re so skinny! Your fiance is lucky! (“Bubby I think he’d still love me even if I wasn’t skinny”) Stop being so conceited!”

And the all time classic, “If you can’t finish eating a banana HOW DO YOU EXPECT TO RAISE A FAMILY?!”

Always good stuff. Sometimes dark and depressing, sometimes light-hearted Holocaust diatribes, sometimes racist comments. You never know – that’s half the fun!

My siblings and I would sleep on her ancient and incredibly uncomfortable pull-out couch to be woken up by my grandmother, hand on her hips at 7:30 a.m. yelling “Are you going to sleep all day?! Why did you even come if you were going to sleep?!” And then spend the day playing hours and hours and hours of gin, going to various Kosher restaurants in Fort Lauderdale for my grandmother to complain that the food is too hot/hard/spicy. She’d fearlessly call over the cook/owner/manager to explain that she could cook better. Anyone who debated her was met with a look of utter dismissal, as in “I am an 89-year-old-Jewish-survivor-immigrant-oldpersoninFlorida-you don’t scare me sir.” And then we’d come home and do it all again the next day.

This visit however, my mom and I visited Bubby in a Boca Raton old age home. Her health and mind have slowly been deteriorating as it does when you enter your ninth decade of living. I’ve never been in an old age home. It’s terrifying. Oh, it’s clean and all. It’s just a building full of sober reminders that you too one day will be sitting in a corner, in a wheelchair chanting “Mama mama mama,” all day. It’s also kind of an ego boost, in the way that elderly people complimenting your youth while you secretly hope they don’t do any voo-doo spells to steal it, is a compliment.

My mom and I walked in to see about nine women rolling around the hallways, lost in their own special dementias. I whispered, “If I get to this stage, I swear I’m just gonna take drugs. Like, just all hallucinogenics  all day while I look out the window and have nurses spoon feed me.” It’s actually not too bad there, an ice cream parlor, beauty salon, daily bingo games, mini fridges in your room (a pleasure I’ve been horrifically denied after leaving my dorm room because according to my husband, “they use up too much energy and you don’t need a wine fridge next to your bed.” Whatever, dictator)

Bubby doesn’t remember my wedding 6 months ago or meeting my husband. She doesn’t remember that she already asked me how I got there this morning or whether or not she just ate soup. But she’s still pretty fierce, especially her nail game. As long as I’ve been alive she’s been showing off her perfectly manicured nails, loudly lamenting the fact that mine are so short. Her nails are her greatest pride and I have never seen one nail chipped on that woman. She’s also still on-point with her obsession with grooming me to be a good housewife, or telling me that my husband will always make more money than me so don’t worry with my own job.

But for every sharp and hilarious barb, she says “I love you Vivaleh!” Randomly. When there’s nothing to talk about or when she can’t hear what people are saying. She’ll grab my face and tell me how I’m her little girl. Even when I call her during the week, when she hears my voice she’ll immediately yell “Avivaleh! I love you!” instead of saving it for the end of the conversation like the rest of us.

It was hard leaving. That fleeting moment of “LIVE EVERY DAY TO THE FULLEST WHILE YOU CAN” inspiration lasted at least until the plane landed and I decided to spend the rest of the night watching American Ninja Warrior.

So yes, youth is fleeting and enjoy it while you can blah blah blah. But really, just call your grandma, guys. It means a lot to them. Call them while you can. You never know, you might get some golden nuggets of wisdom.

(Such as “Listen. When you get married, just keep your mouth shut about what your husband says. No matter what he says. What? Would you rather be married or right?!”)


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