Elie came home from the army, helped me pick up crutches for his brother, and ran a bunch of errands. When we got home, we noticed that the crutches had to be adjusted for his brother’s height.
Elie loves fixing things – it comes from his father. So Elie found the tools and proceeded to try to adjust the crutches. This is where I have to explain that Israel has an incredible organization known as Yad Sarah. They “own” an incredible amount of medical equipment, ranging from the very simple to advanced medical devices costing thousands of dollars.
For a minimal deposit, you can “rent” this equipment for long periods of time. And so, we “rented” these crutches for up to three months. They are rather worn and in attempting to unscrew the bolt to make the adjustment, it simply shattered in Elie’s hands. Elie, like his father, is a fixer, and so he went into the bomb shelter (guess that’s another reality we have here that we take for granted), where my husband stores his tools, found new bolts, and fixed the crutches.
It wasn’t long, however, before Elie and his youngest brother found that crutches can be used not only to help someone with a broken foot, but they can, in the mind of a boy become a weapon, a super-powerful, semi-automatic machine crutch! So there they were, the boy who in a month will become bar mitzvah, a celebration of his passing into manhood, and the man who still has the boy inside him, having a shoot out in my living room.
It was one of those priceless moments, as Elie aimed the crutch. By the way he stands, you cannot forget that he knows how to aim a weapon. There is no hesitation, no question in the way he holds his head and sites the “target.”
He pulled the “trigger” and simulated the kickback of the weapon before taking aim again. They dived for cover, took up new positions behind the chairs, as shots bounced all around them (while the rest of us sat peacefully and safely beyond their imaginary world).
And while I watched them and laughed, I thought about his real gun, locked in his room. Elie would never wave his real gun in the air and point it at his brother. Not even as a joke. It’s never happened and I can’t imagine that it ever would. The “gun battle” raged in my living room while we all laughed, including Elie.
At one point, Elie grabbed both crutches and was suddenly Rambo shooting in all directions. There might be others who would say this isn’t a joke or perhaps a soldier shouldn’t pretend so easily, but I was happy it had happened. I love the fact that Elie is so responsible with his weapon, but I also love the fact that it hasn’t consumed him. He is not what he does. He is a soldier, tasked with responsibilities, but he can discard that with his uniform and his gun. He’ll come home, quickly drop his backpack, change out of the uniform, stow the gun safely away, and come downstairs and blend back into the family.
When things are quiet, he’ll talk about the army, things that have happened or might happen soon. He’ll tell us about some of the other soldiers, about what he did or where he patrolled. But more and more, I like seeing him put the soldier away for a few hours at a time. This time, it was to have a crutches battle with his brother. And the best part of this gun battle of the crutches was that this time, they didn’t break the vase or the candlesticks or the pictures on the window sill.