ROSE’S WILL by Denise DeSio
ELI AND ROSE: A LOVE STORY
MY NAME IS Eli Fineman. I
am a Bulgarian Holocaust survivor, a childless man, and a dabbler in
the stock market. Eli is a Hebrew name. It means to elevate. Since I
am a loafer by nature, I must push myself to make the effort.
After a lifetime of
shirking my academic requirements, I finally received my Bachelor of
Arts degree from Brooklyn College at the age of sixty-two. Today, at
seventy-two, I am proud to say that I am an educated man. I savor the
sound of it on my lips. Most people respect me for it but I am not
bothered one bit by those who scoff and ask, “Eli, what will you do
with a degree in philosophy and a minor in Ancient Roman
Civilization?” I say that it is not so much what I have learned,
but that I have learned to learn.
Oddly, if you look into my accounts, you will
find three million dollars. I earned it doing this and that, but my
money is not who I am. When I step back to look at my life, I see a
rich man who has nothing, an educated man who knows little, and an
old man who will carry the green of youth into the grave — which
may or may not be soon with my diabetes. But who knows? On Wednesday
I will have my cataracts removed. Perhaps on Thursday someone will
find a cure for my other ailments.
I will be happy to recover my vision, although
there are some things I am able to see that cannot be perceived with
the eye. I can look inside of people. Sometimes it is a good thing,
and other times it can get a man into trouble. When I looked inside
of Rose, I found a little of both.
From the first minute I saw her at the Kings
Highway Senior Center, I lost interest in other women. She was round,
substantial, not easy to be broken. Years of labor showed on her
broad, olive hands. Her thick, sturdy fingers clutched a purse
tightly to her body. With the other hand, she passed around
delicacies from her kitchen. Her eyes, oh her eyes, were so
expressive, so full of thoughts that other women hide. When Rose
walked into the room, everything shifted — one way or the other.
Rose enjoyed telling people what to do. She would
stop everything to help them, but heaven forbid if they didn’t