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Blood Relatives This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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All my life I wondered why my father's parentschose to disregard me and my brothers, their grandchildren. They don'tconsider us family because our mother is black; they call us"half-breeds." Even if we were Orthodox Jews like them, they stillwouldn't accept us ... because we're part black. I have always wanted toask them why ...

When I was seven, I remember spending a daywith my father. Everything went well until we startedhome.

"Daddy? Where are we going? This isn't the way," Ireminded him.

"Well, sweetheart, I have to make a quickstop."

"Where are we going?"

"I have to stop atmy parents' house to drop off medicine for my father."

All Iheard was "stop at my parents' house."

For most people,going to their grandparents' house is fun. For me, it's torture. Wepulled in and I followed Dad up to the porch.

"Who's there?"asked an old Jewish woman when heknocked.

"Baruch."

"Oh, Baruch, why didn't youtell me you were coming over," she said through the door. "Come in,come in."

Hiding behind my father, I could see the big, blue dooropen to reveal a stout woman wearing old-fashioned clothes; no skinshowed except her hands and face.

"Aba is in the bathroom.He's not doing too well. Did you bring hismedication?"

"Yeah. You know my daughter ..."

Andthat's when it happened.

The moment she saw me, shefroze.

"What - why would you - I do not want that thing inmy house!"

I felt like a bomb had exploded inside me. I wanted toscream and shout at her, to cry and feel the hot tears run down my coldcheeks, to run back to my father's old beige Oldsmobile and curlup.

As if he'd read my mind, Dad said, "Here are thekeys. I'll be there in a minute. You can turn the radio on if you want."

I flew down the steps and fought with the key. When I finallygot it, I threw myself into the front seat and curled into a littleball. I thought I would have to wait a long time for my father, but hewas back in minutes.

Nothing much was said on the way home; foronce he let me listen to the radio.

After that, I didn't haveanything to do with my father's parents for almost 10 years, untilPassover last year. My uncle invited me to spend Passover with hisfamily. Celebrating Jewish holidays was nothing new to me; I did itevery year with my father.

When I arrived at my uncle's house,I helped set the table. My father's sister came to me and said,"Rebecca, this is Mr. and Mrs. Weisman." She was talking about mygrandparents, actual blood relatives, yet she told me to refer to themas if they were total strangers.

During the ceremony, my cousinsread in Hebrew. I felt uncomfortable because I don't speak or understandit very well.

"Okay, Rebecca, this means ..." Mrs. Weismanjumped in.

"Don't explain everything to her. She knows whatit means," said Mr. Weisman.

"But what if shedoesn't?"

Then they began to argue in Hebrew.

I couldn'tbelieve my grandmother - excuse me, Mrs. Weisman - kept stopping theceremony to explain what was said like I'd never taken part in a Jewishholiday. All I could do was wait for the night to be over.

It'sbeen a year since I've spoken to my father's parents. If I'm at hishouse and they call, I'm polite, because that's how I am. Lately, theyhave actually been saying "please" and "thank you" tome.

I think there might have been a breakthrough.



This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.





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uh-oh spagetti-o's said...
Mar. 18, 2010 at 12:36 pm:
wow that was kinda sad but it's really good. I can kinda relate to how it feels to be hated by someone in your family for someting you cant control. Mine may not be race but i've always had to live with one of my big brothers hating for reasons i still dont know. =(
 
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