When Elie was little, I would try to capture little pearls of wisdom that he or his siblings would say. If there was paper around, I’d scribble it down and years later, these little pieces of paper would turn up in a book, a pad of paper, anywhere, and I’d smile.
One of my all time Elie favorites went like this:
“Ima, do you know what clouds are?”
“No, Elie. What are clouds?”
“Clouds are pieces of snow. And when they all fall down, there are no more clouds.”
I loved that one. It made such sense to me, seen through the eyes of a little boy. There was all that snow in the sky waiting to fall, and once it did, the clouds were no longer in the sky. Of course, that didn’t explain clouds in the summer, rain, and wind, but children’s logic needs no encouragement.
It’s been years since I tried to capture these words in writing as they were spoken. I try to remember them and sometimes can, but my children are older and much more aware of me. If I’m writing or typing while they are talking…they begin to wonder. And too, older children base their pearls on real life and truths as they learn them. Imagination gives way to adult logic, but there are still times when you know you want to run and write down their exact words anyway.
Last week, Elie was on the phone with his father talking about the delay in getting his new phone. It was Thursday afternoon in Israel. Our weekend spans Friday and Saturday. If he didn’t have the phone by Friday, he would be returning up north early Sunday morning without it. Having placed the order, Elie was impatient. He knew he could wait, but he just didn’t want to.
The phone company was not cooperating. They didn’t have the phone, but promised to deliver it on Sunday. Elie tried to explain that he had to return to base, that he could come and pick up the phone in Jerusalem later that day or the next, but the phone representative kept saying that she could arrange to deliver it only on Sunday. Elie was having this conversation with his father, as his father explained to the salesperson.
“I’m on the border – she can’t get to where I am,” Elie told his father. The woman persisted. She would arrange to get the phone to him…wherever he was…and that’s when Elie’s latest pearls of wisdom were delivered.
“Sure, come to the Lebanese border and deliver my phone – don’t forget to bring a bullet proof vest so you don’t get shot.” He said it with such a smile that my heart filled. The woman’s promise was absurd, leave it to Elie to point it out so brilliantly. But Elie wasn’t done.
“Tell her to look for the DANGER – BORDER sign and make a left.”
The phone didn’t get there either that day or the next and we began to think of other ways to get it to Elie. One of his soldiers had asked for an extra few hours to take care of some critical personal issues. Elie secured the extra time and thought that if I could get the phone to the soldier by Sunday afternoon, the young man could take it to Elie. It was agreed – best we could do.
Then, Elie found himself in the northern city of Kiryat Shemona early Sunday with an hour to spare before the army bus met him for the last leg of the trip. “Ima, there’s a Cellcom [phone company] office near here,” he told me.
We agreed that he would walk over there, but held little hope that he would actually be able to get his advanced new phone (either because they wouldn’t agree to give it to him considering that another was about to be delivered for him, or because in the northern town, it was unlikely (we thought) that such an advanced phone would be sitting there and available). We were wrong on all counts and Elie called me a short time later to tell me he’d caught the bus…and the phone.
Now all we have to do is learn how to use it (I got one too). Another of Elie’s pearls – voice filled with concern, “Ima, it might be too complicated for you.”
And with a smile, I responded, “you can help me when you get home.” A few more days…