The time my diabetic grandfather tried to sneakily eat candy.


There’s this snack called Halva, it’s usually served as a candybar or in bite-sized chunks and it’s made out of sesame seed paste. I abhor it, I think it’s absolutely disgusting. My paternal grandfather loved the stuff. One of the best memories I have of him was when I was 13 and went to Israel with both him and my grandmother. There was this deal with a tour company, if you flew to Israel and brought a teen to have their bar/bat mitzvah, the teen flew for free. I never wanted a bat mitzvah, but I ended up not having a choice in the matter, though I did enjoy the trip a little. I feel I was too young at the time to really appreciate it, but it gave me one of my favorite memories of all time.

I’m going to pause here and mention I called them Bubby and Zadi, which mean grandmother and grandfather in Yiddish.

During the second week, I caught a horrible cold. It was so bad that one day Bubby decided they’d both stay in the hotel to help take care of me, even though by this point I was just sleeping a lot. She went downstairs to get food for me and came back with a plate full of Halva, and another plate full of stuff like bread & butter, pickled herring, and cherry tomatoes. I devoured that plate, didn’t go near the Halva. While I ate my lunch, Bubby was fussing with something across the room, probably packing away some souvenirs. While she was preoccupied, Zadi sneaked a piece of the candy and sat at the table happily munching on it. He was diabetic, so Bubby rarely let him have anything sweet. She came back over to see him eating it and shrieked that he’s not supposed to eat it and shouldn’t have taken such a big piece, and while she was trying to take it from him, he grumbled and fought while trying to finish it. I have this very clear picture in my mind of Bubby trying to grab at the candy while Zadi held her at arm’s length, trying to finish the Halva as quickly as he could, with a determined and grumpy look on his face. I’m hoping I didn’t laugh then, but every time I look back on that trip and remember that moment, I laugh out loud.

It’s been 15 years since he passed away, but I know he laughs right along with me when I remember the defiant look on his face while he tried to cram the rest of the candybar in his mouth.

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