What Do You Want to Do?

That was the question I asked Elie before he came home for these intermediate days of Sukkot. My husband and I were taking the days off to spend with our kids; Elie was home from the army, his middle brother was home from Hesder, and his sister and her husband were staying nearby.

He thought about it and said he’d really like to go to the water. He’d missed our summer vacation. He was in the army while we went kayaking, swimming, wading, and barbecuing through the north. This was a chance to do something with him.

He chose the north, the Sea of Galilee, which he loves. We drove there today, drove the car down close to the water as so many other vehicles had done the same. This is actually a sad thing, yet another sign that the water is so horribly depleted. Where once you parked by the road and climbed down a short distance to the water, now you have quite a distance to carry packages and towels and chairs and such.

I went in the water with my three youngest children while Elie and his father got the barbecue going. Once it was started, Elie joined us. He complained about the cold and we called him to be brave. Elie splashed his youngest brother and in turn, his younger brother began to try to swim away, out of reach.

“He’s the one who’s dry,” I called out to Davidi. “Splash him back.” I moved closer as Elie continued his assault and Davidi contemplated retreat.

“Like this,” I said as I began splashing Elie. Elie, of course, turned to splash me, but really, what was the point, as I was already quite wet. Wet and acclimated to the water, Elie joined us and swam while I returned to shore to give my husband a chance in the water.

We munched on all manner of meats we had barbecued and had a wonderful time. We left as it was getting dark, just watching the sunset as we loaded the cars and drove south. We arrived about 30 minutes before Elie’s cousins and grandparents came to visit. My nephew is in the artillery division as well. He and Elie talked – joking at times, appearing serious at times. I love seeing them together and yet it makes me even more aware of a world I do not know and can never enter.

Yair was released from the army today; Elie goes back tomorrow. It’s hard to get them together but we succeeded tonight. They are very different in appearance and yet both are tall and strong and so incredibly handsome and for tonight, they were nothing but cousins – each picking on their younger brothers, each laughing and having a good time.

It was great having Elie home for these past few days, at a time when we could be home as well. He spoke some about the next rotation and where it might take him. We spoke of Iran and the north, of Gilad Shalit, still held prisoner in Gaza for close to 900 days. Mostly, he simply blended into the fabric of the family.

Oh and he liked Choco, the bird. He laughed at some of the things the bird can do. He greeted Choco in the mornings, held out his phone to hear the bird say, “hello” and make all sorts of phone-related sounds. And, interestingly enough, it seems Elie recognized a word that we didn’t. Choco knows an Arabic curse. He also knows the word for “forbidden” or “not allowed” and so when Choco cursed, Elie told him he wasn’t allowed to do that. We’ll see if we can get Choco to unlearn that one word, but for now, we are filling his head with all sorts of others things, including a whistling sound that Elie makes.

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