Equal Partners
by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners

By Roland Ezri

"Women are the backbone of all societies. They do a substantial part of the work, and play a major role in raising the future generation yet they are largely powerless. The decisions that count are made by men and foisted upon women."

Writings by Roland Ezri

The Second Exodus – Israel – CCLXXVII. Moshé (3 of 3)

Before leaving for Canada, Moshé made me promise to write on a regular basis.  A friendship like ours could not be allowed to die; and the only way to maintain it was to keep in touch.

And so, for many years, I kept Moshiko apprised of the events of my life, and he did the same.

I wish I could explain to a generation that just has to click on an icon to send a letter to a friend how difficult it was to honor that commitment.  For the two of us it meant writing a letter, placing it in an envelope, affixing stamps, dropping it in a mail box, and trusting the post offices of two countries to deliver the message safely!  As well, a long-distance call was so expensive; talking on the phone was totally out of the question.  As yet, we did not have satellites circling our planet and relaying our calls across the globe.

For many years I wrote, and received Moshiko`s letters.  He rejoiced with me when first Rita, and then Michael were born.  The progress of his two daughters filled half his letters; he made sure to leave some space for Clara, for she had to include her own progress report.

He celebrated at a distance the day I finished my accounting studies and was granted an accounting degree.  Who else but a friend like Moshé can understand the rocky road travelled; over 6 long years I had kept him informed of what it takes to be at the bottom of the hill, and to slowly and painfully climb to the top.

He grieved when he learned that Norma (my wife) and I were so sick; depression, for some reasons, was not considered a bona fide illness!  But Moshé could at least relate.  Here he did not reciprocate even though, as I would find out later, his marriage was in trouble.  He kept that to himself.

Like a vigorous stream, our correspondence continued unabated for many years; but by the `80s the stream had become a rivulet, and eventually dried out.  Two factors contributed to that.  First my depression made the `80s a period of my life spent in the darkness.  Norma fared even worse.  But that alone could not have put an end to the agreement we made so long ago.

The brain is an amazing organ, but you can’t ask it to retain 5 languages and keep them fresh; in time the “Hebrew pathways of the mind,” like an unused trail in the woods, became choked by “weeds” and therefore were more and more difficult to use.  I had great difficulties understanding the Hebrew of his letters, much less responding in that language.

In 1992 I finally managed to go back to Israel for a visit.  During the three weeks I spent there, I was the guest of aunt Angéle.  Before leaving Canada, I made sure to write to Moshiko and let him know when I was coming.  I gave him the telephone number of Angéle; thus she became our contact point.  The question though was whether he would receive my letter; I had written at his last address, and could not be sure it would reach him.  Indeed Moshiko no longer lived there; Clara and Moshé had been divorced for many years; and Moshé now lived on a kibbutz.  But Clara forwarded the letter to him.  In Canada though I was unsure whether he got my letter.  The fact that it wasn’t returned was a good sign; but I was still wondering whether I would reconnect with my old friend again.

When I arrived by my aunt, my first question was whether Moshiko had called.  Did he ever!  She had lost count of the number of calls he made.  “That poor friend of yours, I have never seen anybody so anxious,” she said.

And so I called him; and it was like old times again.  Roland and Moshé were no longer separated by oceans; the past and present had become one again.

It took a while before we could meet, and when we finally did, he apprised me of the changes in his life.  After Clara, he had met a fine lady, Tamar.  The difficult years were left behind, and he began a new life with Tamar.  She was a havera (member) in kibbutz Haogen.  Moshé could not become a haver (member), but since he was the partner of a havera, he could benefit from a “room and board” arrangement.  He did work as a part-time bookkeeper for the kibbutz and thus was able to earn some welcome income that he added to his government pension.

Moshiko wanted me to spend a lot of time with him, but that wasn’t possible.  I had plenty of relatives that I hadn’t seen in many years.  I also wanted to take as many tours as possible.  I compromised by promising that I would try to come again.  And I did just that in 1996.

On my second visit, we spend time in Tel-Aviv and Natanya. I also went to the kibbutz, slept in their house, and had a chance to finally meet Tamar.

Before I left Israel, Moshiko, ever perseverant, asked me to write to him in English; there were plenty of English-speaking people in the Kibbutz to do the translation; he on the other hand would respond in ivrit kala (He was going to keep his Hebrew very simple).  And so I did, for a while.  Eventually his eyesight deteriorated and that brought the correspondence to an end.  But by then, it didn’t matter; the cost of a phone call to Israel was peanuts; and that is how we kept in touch.

For many years, Moshé joined my relatives in asking me when I was coming to Israel again.  From 2003 onwards there were plans, but always reasons why I could not make the voyage.  This year (2013), I finally made it.  But Moshé was no longer there!

Since 2010, Moshiko’s health was deteriorating.  In the fall of 2011, I called, but could only talk with Tamar.  She told me that it was getting increasingly difficult to take care of him.  He was now in a beth avoth (nursing home) in Nahariya.  He was well taken care of, had his own room and phone, and was permitted to leave the home for short visits to the kibbutz and his daughters.  I did talk with him in the home, and he sounded happy, but was complaining of being very frail.  He also suffered from Parkinson’s disease but it was controlled by medications.

When I called him in the spring of 2012, I could barely understand him.  In the fall of 2012, I called Tamar, and it was then that she notified me that Moshé had passed away in June 2012.  He was 86.

Rest In Peace Moshiko!

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