Zev News – May 2008


The first few days of May, Jonathan’s robotics team joined with CSUN to host the World Vex Robotics Competition.  Vex is a commercial product specifically created to build robots. Due to the Granada robotics team’s focus on the FIRST competition, they didn’t even start building their robot for the Vex competition until the local Vex competitions were over.  So they were pleased and proud when their robot, which had not been tested at all, was ranked 16th and was chosen to be part of the top ranked alliance.  Like the FIRST competition, in the Vex competition, after the runs for ranking, the top eight teams choose two other robots to be part of their alliance.  Unlike the FIRST competition, only two of the three robots in an alliance competed in any given game.  The finals are single elimination matches, but winning a match requires winning two out of three games.  In their first game, the alliance leader for the alliance of which Granada was a part went with the other team in their alliance and lost.  Then for the second match, they paired with the Granada team and won.  For the final match, they again paired with the other team and again they lost.  So it was a disappointing end, but Jonathan’s team was consoled that they had done their best, and that they had done much better than they had expected.  Plus, it had been a lot of fun.  Because they were hosting, in addition to competing, the Granada team provided the personnel to reset the fields after each game.  Jonathan enjoyed that very much. 


That first weekend in May was very busy, because not only was Jackie’s Dad in the hospital, but Marc’s mom was in the hospital too. Blanche had contracted an infection and her doctor wanted to treat it aggressively with IV antibiotics and 24 hour monitoring.  Fortunately, she responded well to the treatment and went home within a week.  Oh and Jackie was working overtime at work too.  So, on Saturday, Jackie put in a couple hours of work, then visited her Dad, then met Marc and Benjamin at the Vex competition, then took Benjamin to visit Blanche, grabbed a quick dinner, and took Benjamin to the Temple Ahavat Shalom Evening of the Arts Gallery preview and drama presentation.  Our temple’s annual Evening of the Arts showcases the religious school for the past year.  Each of the Hebrew school classes had one or two art projects on display, and the high school program had displays for each of their electives.  The high school electives include cooking, quilting, Jewish philosophy, and Tikun Olam (heal the world.)  In addition, the drama and song-leading electives made presentations.


On Sunday, we had the family over to celebrate Jonathan’s 15th birthday.  Marc, as always made a delicious dinner.


The following week, Hebrew High had a presentation for all the parents, celebrating Israel’s 60th birthday and also Holocaust Remembrance Day.  Jonathan really didn’t want to be there because he had some specific objections to the material being presented, but we all went anyway.  Jonathan objected to several of the readings because they didn’t make sense to him and to some because the phrasing was not egalitarian.  A prime example was a reading that went (in part) “Every person has a name which the mountains gave him and which his walls gave him.” (and, no, reading this line in context didn’t make it any clearer.)


Jonathan had his annual physical this week.  It was unremarkable (hurray!).  He hasn’t quite reached Jackie in height, but, by the end of the summer, we expect that that will change.


Mother’s Day rolled around, and with Jackie’s Dad in the hospital Jackie’s Mom did not feel like celebrating.  So Jackie and Marc just had Marc’s family over for a quiet brunch.  Afterwards Jackie went to the hospital and spent some time with her Dad and Mom.  At the end of the day, Jackie took her Mom out to dinner to a restaurant in Chinatown.


A couple of days later, Jackie’s friend Phyllis came into town for her new job and she and Jackie got together for dinner.  It was wonderful to catch up.


A few days later, the robotics team had their end-of-year dinner.  They passed out awards to everyone. Marc received a couple of gifts, thanking him for helping out the team.  Each kid got an award called a “superlative award” that was specifically thought of for that kid.  Awards included “most likely to figure out the last digit of pi.”  “Most likely to squeak when poked.” and “Most likely to walk like a duck.”  Jonathan won the award for “Most likely to be reading right now and not even realize he’s won a superlative award”(!)  As he walked up to receive his award, he picked up the book that had been sitting next to him on the table and held it up to show that he did indeed deserve this particular award.


That weekend, Jordan graduated from college (in Stockton,) but Jackie and Marc missed it because they had tickets to “Mamma Mia” on Saturday night and Sunday matinee tickets to “Wicked”, along with the boys.  Such a contrast between the two shows!  “Mamma Mia” was all light and humorous and “Wicked” is all dark and full of emotion.  We had thoroughly prepped Benjamin for “Wicked”, playing the soundtrack numerous times and giving him the entire synopsis, complete with spoilers.  Even so, afterwards, one of his first comments was, “I didn’t realize it would be so sad!”  Both boys loved it, as did we.  Afterwards we all went to the hospital to see Jackie’s Dad.  Although we were still hoping that he would turn around, we knew that this might be the boys’ last chance to visit him.  Jackie’s Aunt Sandy (her Dad’s sister) came into town with her husband Marty on Friday, and they were at the hospital too.  Jackie’s Dad was in ICU so Jackie took each of the boys in to see him one at a time.  Her Dad was pretty out of it, but he opened his eyes for each visitor and seemed to acknowledge their presence.  After visiting, the boys hung out in the waiting room, while Jackie’s mom had a serious conversation with Jackie, Marc and Don.  The doctors wanted to know whether to continue dialysis.  Jackie felt that if there was no hope, they should stop, but, not knowing whether they were at that point or not, she was not willing to stop dialysis, yet.  When we left the hospital that night, all twelve of us went to Stonefire for dinner.


On Monday, Jackie’s Mom and brother talked to the doctors and they said there was really no point in continuing dialysis.  On Tuesday, Jackie went to the hospital and happen to be there when a doctor did rounds.  This doctor answered all of Jackie’s questions – the most important one being,  “Is there a chance that his liver will start working again?” but also – “Why can’t you live without a properly functioning liver?”  And many others.  On Tuesday, Jackie’s mom’s older sister, Renee also came into town, with Uncle Milt.  Traveling is very difficult for Aunt Renee, and her coming meant a lot to us.


On Wednesday, Jackie’s mom and brother went to the hospital, Jackie’s Aunt Sandy (her Dad’s sister) was already there.  Jackie’s Dad was non-responsive and would not open his eyes.  The doctors said that he was only alive because they were supporting his blood pressure, and it was time to remove the blood pressure support.  They turned off the blood pressure medication and gave them a little morphine to make sure he was in no pain, and less than an hour later, surrounded by his wife, his sister and children, he was gone.  We said the Shema over him, cried and said goodbye


The funeral was arranged for Friday morning.  The service was exactly the way a funeral service should be – full of stories of the person’s life and little else. It was a bit long, because Jackie’s Dad lived a full life, and it took more than a minute to tell his story.  As we left to walk to the gravesite, we discovered it was raining.  After the gravesite service we went to Jackie’s Mom’s for shiva.  That night, we walked to services at Temple Aliyah, where we learned that he had been buried on Lag B’omer.  Ironically, Lag B’omer is a day of celebration during the period of semi-mourning between Passover and Shavous. 


We want to services at Temple Aliyah again on Saturday.  Sunday and Monday nights there were minyons at Jackie’s Mom’s house led by Temple Aliyah. Tuesday and Wedneday nights, there were minyons at Jackie’s house led by Temple Ahavat Shalom. 

On Thursday shiva ended and Jackie went back to work.  The boys only missed one day of school – Friday.  Jonathan had finals Tuesday through Friday after Memorial Day, which he universally aced.


Thursday night was open house at Balboa.  Benjamin gave a little presentation about being a Chandler (a candle-maker.)  This is Benjamin’s last year at Balboa, and it made us a little sad that this was our last chance (without making a special trip) to go back and visit Jonathan’s and Benjamin’s old teachers.