This place is full of Raphaels
July 23, 2014 12:35 PM   Subscribe

Oh. Oh oh oh. Thank you for posting this.
posted by Hermione Granger at 12:38 PM on July 23, 2014

posted by librarina at 12:50 PM on July 23, 2014

That was beautifully written. Thanks for posting that.
posted by mosk at 12:50 PM on July 23, 2014

Oh. Oh. Ow.
posted by halcyonday at 12:56 PM on July 23, 2014

"He brushed his stumps against my skin. I swayed with him. This lasted for five minutes that felt like five years — maybe I am still there, up north in Israel, hand dancing with my shadow uncle in a pretty place under the glare of an unforgiving sun.
My god, she can write. Palpable, beautiful, reaching into the universal head of the reader with those thoughts, shaping how we see this moment she saw.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:56 PM on July 23, 2014 [3 favorites]

Thank you for posting this.
posted by benito.strauss at 1:38 PM on July 23, 2014

Well this hard assed middle aged white guy was moved to a tear or two. Thank you for posting. I don't usually read the NYTs.
posted by 724A at 1:56 PM on July 23, 2014

Well, I don't usually tear up in the middle of the workday, but I guess everyday is different.
posted by The Gooch at 1:59 PM on July 23, 2014

I was not expecting to shed tears at work today.
That was beautiful, thank you for sharing it.
posted by The Legit Republic of Blanketsburg at 4:10 PM on July 23, 2014

Thank you for sharing. I was struck by this:
... in her youth, my grandmother had smuggled machine-gun parts in her babies’ carriages to aid the resistance against the British. She knew well the physical and mental demands of statehood and motherhood. And the demands of raising such a child as Raphi in her place and time? Well, that was another story entirely.

According to my father, my grandparents were overwhelmed with the burdens of caring for Raphi and bowed to a doctor’s advice by sending him to live in an institution.
So, basically, raising a special needs child can be harder than being a part of the resistance.

This world really needs to start doing a lot more families.
posted by Michele in California at 6:43 PM on July 23, 2014 [3 favorites]

Thank you for posting this. I had an awful day and this made me realize just how silly my own fretting has been.

Beautifully written.
posted by cairnoflore at 12:00 AM on July 24, 2014

I would like to know more from the perspective of the institutionalized (still?) adult.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 12:30 AM on July 24, 2014

I would like to know more from the perspective of the institutionalized (still?) adult.
So would I, but you're going to have a hard time getting that, because he's not verbal.

I have a profoundly disabled uncle who is, I assume, around the same age. My grandparents faced similar choices, although they were in the US, rather than Israel. I don't know how much of a difference that makes: maybe Israeli homes for disabled people were less rotten than American ones. (I think class also comes into play here: my grandparents were working-class people who couldn't afford private care and had to rely on whatever the state provided, which in the '50s and '60s was unspeakably grim.) When my uncle was 9, my grandparents sent him to live in the state mental hospital, and I think the assumption was that they would not be very involved in is care or life after that. They didn't abandon him, though, and so they quickly realized that he was being physically abused and took him home. They were really involved in the political movement to create and fund better housing options for disabled people, and they helped found the network of group homes in which my uncle now lives. My grandparents were not hugely admirable people in a lot of ways, but I have tremendous respect for them for not bowing to prevailing social norms and abandoning their son to what was, at the time, a totally brutal system.

But there was a cost, and it was mostly paid by my mother. My grandparents put a huge amount of energy into the care of her brother, and there wasn't a lot left over for her. Also, the strain of caring for my uncle put a lot of stress on their marriage, and my mom dealt with a lot of the fallout from that. I have a hard time blaming anyone for making different choices, because there weren't any great choices to make.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:45 AM on July 24, 2014 [5 favorites]

That was really good.

It is amazing to me that the author and her grandmother can return to their reading and knitting, to their old ways, despite this change in their relationship. But that's how it is in some families: the stone tossed into water makes waves, but they fade and the surface grows calm again.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:17 AM on July 24, 2014

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