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Danita and Michel Aziza


By Danita Aziza, October 14, 2010

No one gives me such heavy doses of unconditional love as my Mom.  For as long as I can remember, my Mom has had the ability to gloss over most of my failings and foibles and accentuate my positives while eliminating my negatives.  She has also been a support whenever I’ve been in need whether it being present for the final stretch of pregnancy, moving to Toronto when I took ill to help with the kids, giving Michel and I break to take a vacation or helping us settle during one of our many moves.  Safta, as I call her since Tali was born, has always stood and continues to stand by me no matter what.

I’ve learned a lot about giving unconditional love from my Mom throughout my lifetime and especially during the past two years living in Israel although her track record prior to our move was pretty stellar.  In 1980, it wasn’t fashionable for kids to leave home to attend university especially if you were an only daughter.  Defying the trend, my parents pushed me to pursue a degree in communications that, at the time, was only offered at York University in Toronto.  When I many years later asked my Mom how she let me go so far away from home at such a young age, she said that it was because she knew it was the best thing for me.  Her need to keep me close at hand was usurped by her desire for me to have new opportunities and experiences.

It’s a big deal for a family to pick up and move from their comfortable and familiar surroundings and relocate themselves in a country that is foreign to them in many ways.  It is also a big deal for one’s extended family to adjust to having those they love so far removed from their daily lives. The impact of making Aliyah has repercussions for so many family members and not just those who choose to make their lives in Israel.

No one can identify with the feelings of a parent who is told that their children have decided to pick up and move to Israel except, of course, another parent who has been subjected to a similar fate.  At first there is the initial shock and disbelief followed by attempts made to bring about a sense of rationale to an outwardly irrational decision.  Finally for many, resignation sets in and one decides to either be supportive or not.

My Mom actually sees my being in Israel like a glass that is half full.  She tells me that we actually speak on the phone more often since I’ve been here in spite of the ten hour time difference between us.  It’s true that I do make more of an effort, as does Michel, to be in close contact with our families since living here.  Somehow if you can speak often the distance doesn’t seem so drastic..

I don’t take my Mom’s unconditional love for granted, at least I try not to. I feel badly that because of our decision to live here she has had to grapple with an additional stress load that just wasn’t present when we were living in Winnipeg.  Never once though have I heard her complain about the new worries we have given her unless she of course becomes frantic when she can’t reach us by phone; something which has happened on more than a few occasions.

I’m not the only recipient of my Mom’s unconditional love.  She continuously supports and provides help to my siblings and many other family members who, when everyone else is nowhere to be found, is always there to do whatever is required and usually with a smile on her face.  Just last week she decided that it was important for my nephew to attend a succah party in Vancouver.  She drove to Maple Ridge where he lives to pick him up, drove back to Vancouver to the party and then returned him home again.  The entire trip was close to six hours of highway and city driving which in one day is quite something for a woman her age.  No complaints were heard from her just heart felt satisfaction that her grandson had a great time.

As my own children are now at an age where they are making many decisions independently and sometimes these decisions are not always in line with my thinking, I’m drawn to the example of Safta who has more often than not simply loved me and allowed me to somehow work the rest out on my own.  It may be a bit trickier today to heap on the unconditional love when we are so intimately involved in our children’s lives.  It seems like it is a parental responsibility to voice an opinion on almost everything to ensure that our children stay on course and aren’t overtaken by the fast paced, technology saturated, and excessively materialistic culture that has become modern day reality.

I find it a constant challenge actually to not tell my kids or my husband, for that matter, what to do.  Somehow I’m always finding myself commenting on something whether it be to not use the hair burning and time wasting hair straightner, what foods they should eat to ensure optimal health, how they should be spending any idle time and so on and so on and so on. You might want to check in with Benji about now who is waiting for his army testing and to get accepted into a Magen David Adom ambulance training program and ask him to rank on a scale of 1-10 the perceived degree of unconditional love he’s receiving..  He’d probably tell you that when he’s eating popcorn in front of the TV at 11:00 in the morning there isn’t a lot of unconditional love coming his way.  At least not that he can see.

When your kids comply, make you proud and don’t make your hair turn that full bodied greyish color, it’s somewhat easy to just love them purely and completely.  It’s when they venture off of the parental path that you have spent sleepless nights carving out for them and they go in a direction you never quite envisioned, well that’s when unconditional love is put to it’s truest test. 

When I find myself at the dividing line between unconditional love and something a bit different, I think of my mom who rarely judges me but always supports me unconditionally.  I’m not sure how’s she’s managed it, but it is definitely a gift that I’ve been lucky enough to receive.  I’m sure Tali, Benji and Rachel are hoping and praying that I have inherited the gene.

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

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