Laura’s mother lives in a building now where the signs are in Russian as well as English. I was pleased to see, however, a flyer in support of Ukraine posted in an elevator, and it wasn’t defaced.
While I was waiting for the elevator after saying good-bye to Sophia, a woman about my age came out of a nearby apartment speaking Russian to those inside. The elevator was arriving just as she approached me so the indicator light was off. Seeing that, she asked in English in a critical tone, “You didn’t push the button?” Fortunately for me, the elevator door opened just then.
When we got in, I saw that she came up to about my chest height, but carried all the gravitas of age. It was a short ride, but she had time to ask me “Do you live here?” “No,” I said, “I’m visiting my mother-in-law, Sophia Rivkin.” The door opened on the ground floor before she had a chance to respond. When I stood aside to let her out, she moved toward the buttons inside and said “No, I just came down with you.”
I could give her the benefit of the doubt that she just didn’t pay attention to which way the elevator arrow was pointed when she got on, but she did not appear to be that unobservant. Rather, I have to smile at the thought that the building druzhina was just checking out the Irish intruder.
Anne Mei, Katie, and I came to visit her grandmother for two days. She was very happy to meet Katie and to hear all that the two of them are up to. They left just after lunch on the second day, but I stayed until the evening. Sophia and her sister-in-law Eleanor, who lives in another building in the same compound, play Scrabble without counting points. I played with them twice and learned that it is still possible to have a competitive game without keeping point score. Just count who has the most and longest multi-syllable words. Sophia let me borrow her car to go back to my hotel. And Eleanor gave me a ride to the airport early in the morning on the third day. When I called to let Sophia know that I had arrived safely in Philadelphia, she and Eleanor were playing Scrabble again.
Family keeps us going, even if at times they get us going.