a message to my granddaughter Graying New York

| 05 May 2016 | 04:39

I’ve been wanting to put my hands on my 12-year-old granddaughter’s shoulders and say, “Ask questions, find out about your family, learn about your grandparents and great grandparents and where they were from, who they were, what they stood for, what they endured.”

I would advise her to keep a diary so that when she is older, much older, she won’t be like me, ever sorry that I didn’t ask more questions and know more about my heritage. Oh how I wished I asked my father and Aunt Chana about the village they ran from to escape the Cossacks; what it was like to live in Vienna, waiting for my uncle to finish his service in World War I so they could all emigrate to the United States.

I know even less about my mother’s family; I never asked. No one talked about these things and I only know they came from somewhere in Russia. My father and his sister’s family came to New York out of Vienna, and I knew this only by overhearing their conversations. My mother was born here, and she and her sisters never spoke of the past and I never asked.

Why? Because I was a child. All that stuff was boring, had no relevance to my life, no meaning to me. Until I became older and rued that I knew so little. I pore over the few photos I have of my family. I vaguely remember a passport picture of my father’s father, an old man with a beard. My grandfather! If I could only have everyone back for just a few minutes, I could find out so much I never thought I’d care about.

This is what I’d want to tell my granddaughter, who at this moment cares only about being 12, about school and friends and boys. I’m not sure I will ever say these things to her. She would probably give me the fish eye. She hasn’t shown any interest in pictures of my parents, her grandparents. But someday she will want to know, and it will be too late.

Oh, my lovely granddaughter, when you are much, much older, you will wonder why you never asked, as I do now. I wish it could be otherwise, but I can’t blame you for being 12. Twelve knows only the future; the past is irrelevant. That’s just the way life is.


My old computer died a peaceful death, and I am in the process of adjusting to Windows 10. Being a total technophobe, I am not happy! I scream at it a lot. There are problems to be ironed out, and I cannot do this without my trusty computer guy, who is coming soon.

I trust it will all work out. I cannot do without a computer, but I do very well without a smart phone and an iPad and a Kindle. I don’t need apps. I don’t know what Twitter is for, have no idea what Flickr or BuzzFeed are, don’t care about instant messaging, and still have a wall phone.

There are those, even those of my own age, who say I should get with the modern age. I say no thank you, I am fine. Just let this computer work right and I will be happy. The fact is, there are women in my group who don’t even own a computer and are resentful that everything these days is done online. I can relate, as the only reason I ever did learn how to use a computer was because of my job.

I think, though, that we have to accept that this is now and this is way things are done. Still, I have no plans to get a smart phone. I can only go so far with this newfangled stuff. I think I’ve gone about as far as I want to. Let the world go on without me. It will have to live without my Twitter feed, whatever that is. They will have to find out my news by talking to me. Now isn’t that so old-fashioned?