Fort the Love of Dolls

Bubby has a box of kid’s toys in her house, but the ones she really cares about are kept in a separate basket.  Bubby didn’t have toys when she was growing up, though she always wanted a doll.  Using a towel, she showed me how she used to roll up a shmatte into the shape of a doll for her little sisters to hold and care for She showed me how she taught them to cradle the ‘doll’ and rock it in their arms.  When we were young she’d make clothes for our dolls.

She lets the kids play with her dolls today, but I always see her keeping a special eye on them. 


Bubby In The Storm

My legs were bare when we visited Bubby on Sunday, which did not sit well with her. And so during my visit today she leaned over and took a look under the table to see if I’d come to my senses. I had. I was wearing leggings and socks.

Which led to the following story:

When Sara was about two and a half, there was a breakout of ‘scarletina’ — scarlet fever? Smallpox? Some sort of disease amongst the kids in her day care.  By law, the whole group of kids were removed from the school and sent for a few days to stay in a kolhoz several kilometres away.

It was a beautiful winter morning when Buby set out to visit her. She described the sun shining on the snow and the wonderful air.  On the way back, however, there began what Bubby called a ‘brun’– essentially, a snow storm– but a bad one.  In Poland apparently there was the occasional frost or snowfall, but in Russia you got storms where you couldn’t see your own feet. She wasn’t wearing any stockings, just ‘valenkes’ (sp?) which are some kind of high boots made of wool, as I understand it, with rags tucked inside for extra warmth. Pretty soon, Bubby realized that she was not on the right road. She had no idea where she was, but she kept walking. According to Russian wisdom, never sit down if you’re lost outside in a snowstorm. Just keep moving no matter what it takes because if you sit down you’ll want to sleep, and if you sleep, you’ll die.

How many times has Bubby come to the brink of death?  She wandered all night long, beating herself with her arms for warmth. Finally, she saw a small light and headed towards it. It turned out to be a man who was also lost in the snow but who was travelling with a horse and wagon and was somehow able to build a fire to keep warm.  She stayed with him until the storm subsided and then he drove her back home. She had wandered 20 kilometres out of her way.

She said the skin on her thighs was completely stiff. I’m surprised she had any toes left.

All of this activity, by the way, was carried out on 200 grams of bread, which was her daily allotment.  Sara also got 200 grams of bread a day. Hunger, Bubby told me, was the worst part of their struggles.  Zaidy was able to help somehow because of opportunities he came across while travelling from kolhoz to kolhoz as part of his work.

Bubby also told me that when she was young she’d walk barefoot– not out of necessity, as she had shoes, but out of good old stubborn teenagerness– in the snow to fill up buckets of water from the local pump. She pointed to the building across the street from her balcony to demonstrate the distance she had to travel to get water.  It was not a good idea, she told me. Save your health.


Tally’s Spaghetti

IMG_0483Bubby’s favourite story about me is about how she used to feed me spaghetti on the balcony.

(Aside– we should make a montage of looking-up-to-the-balcony-at-people-waving-down shots)

And about how I used to slurp it up. Pfooooot.

And about how I grew up to look like a piece of spaghetti.

I took pictures of DS (that’s Blogspeak for Dear Son– the oldest one, in this case) on my balcony in Haifa eating spaghetti. In spaghetti letters on his high chair was written “I love you Bubby.”


Buby The Stowaway

This Bubby story just happened just a few weeks ago, but it is sure to become a classic.

When Bubby was at Baycrest recently (a free upgrade from NYGH which was full that night), Amalia and I went to visit her.  Of course, we barely had to mention her name before every single employee on the floor, not to mention some of the other patients and their visitors began to gush about her.  Honestly, I felt like each social worker, pharmacist, and nurse was looking forward to their turn to visit Buby on whatever premise they could come up with.

Although she is grateful for and gracious about the care, the attention, and the hospital food (“Oh, you see? THIS is good food! You see this fish? Delicious!”), There are those lucky ones for whom Bubby reserves her most lavish attention. I was a little (just a bissel) miffed to find myself being introduced to my new cousin; someone Bubby called her  ‘granddaughter’ — a Polish nurse that Bubby had bonded with on the floor.

But that’s not the story.  That’s just context.

When Bubby had been admitted to Baycrest several nights before, she’d been assigned to a room with a Cougher.  The Cougher did her thing all night long and Bubby, who was expecting to recuperate in the hospital as opposed to lose more sleep, decided that this was not a suitable arrangement. So, always the one for practical solutions to simple problems,  she got up, took her pillow and blanket, and found some couch or stretcher to lie down on. There was some panic on the floor in the morning when everyone’s most beloved patient could not be found, but eventually Bubby was found and awakened by a very relieved nurse.

I asked her to show me exactly where it was that she’d located to but she forgot to point it out to me on our subsequent walk around the floor.  A walk that was interrupted every few steps by “Oh Mrs. Wolf, I’ve been meaning to speak to you!” “Mrs Wolf, my favourite patient! How are you today?”

Buby: “Okay, okay, I am okay!”

Buby gave us a tour of the hospital floor.  She showed us all the beautiful artwork on the wall and pointed out her favourites.  I have heard Bubby complain about things. But only things that deserve being complained about.

We were very proud that, of all the patients on the floor that day, Bubby is our Bubby. And I pray to God that I and my kids inherited her genetic longevity and staying power.


Hi everyone.   Thanks for getting things going!  I’m going to make a request for posters to sign off on a picture so we know who posted it and maybe tell us a bit about it, like when it was taken, who was around, the back story…

For example…

This is a picture my sister Mali took of Bubby and Zeidy.  It hangs in my living room.  I think the expression on their faces says it all.  Ironically, Zeidy never liked this photo.  He smacked it when I showed it to him and said “Ugh”.  I don’t think he liked the way he looked here, or maybe it was too mushy.

bubby and zeidy copy