What happened during the night?


I noticed an unrecognizable number displayed on my telephone. Along with countless others, I received robo calls sporadically. Was this another or real? I said hello and a voice inquired if I was Marshall Greenstein. Who’s this please, I asked.

“My name is Karl. Are you Marshall Greenstein?” Yes I am. Are you calling about counseling, sir?

“I guess you could say so. I’d like to talk about a family matter. My wife and I would like to talk with you.”

We made an appointment for the following week. They couldn’t break away sooner. “We’re driving down from the Buffalo area.” My only passing thought was wondering why folks would drive to our region. Buffalo certainly has its share of therapists. I’d learn the answer soon enough.

Karl and Lucy shook my hand like a long-lost relative. Each drank coffee. “So, Marshall, we were talking on our drive from the Buffalo area. Please bear with us. We Googled names in the area. We specifically searched for a Jewish sounding name. Are you Jewish, Marshall?” Yes, Karl, I was raised in a Jewish home. “Do you practice, Marshall, the faith?” Well, sir, not formally anymore. What bearing does that have for you? Also, are there not Jewish therapists in Buffalo? “Well, there are but we needed someone out of the area and hopefully not too familiar with the older business establishment. Let us explain.”

Lucy spoke. “Marshall. we reside in the Maryland area. We’re both school teachers. Karl teaches history in college. I teach high school history and the presidency. We received a frightening call from a live-in aide for my great uncle, Marty. He lives in the Buffalo area. The aide, whose name is Sara, called me several days before we called you. Uncle Morty was screaming in his sleep. He woke up Sara who couldn’t understand Morty’s language. Morty is well-versed in English but Polish is his language of origin. Sara could not settle him down. His body shook uncontrollably and his eyes, she described, demonstrated fright. I talked to him on the phone. The familiar sound of my voice calmed him a little.”

What happened next, Lucy?

“I told Sara to call his doctor. Even at an odd hour of the night, his doctor could be called. They are friends from the synagogue. They both took a Bible study class and soon after, I understand, became friends. The doctor got called and sped over to see Uncle Morty.”

Wow, that’s unusual for these days, Lucy. What followed? “His doctor got him settled down. He requested a follow-up appointment. Sara brought Morty to the doctor’s office the next day. After examining him, he suggested we be called. We’re the only family and this situation necessitated our presence. Sara was shaken. She needed a break. She does private nursing. School was over so we packed some bags and took our dog and drove to Marty.”

What were you both experiencing on the road trip? Karl spoke up.

“I did most of the driving. I knew the road well. We usually spend a week or two with Morty. We take day trips. He enjoys the sights. He likes to get out of the house. Sara is wonderful On nice days, they drive around the region. They stop for lunch. Morty likes baseball. Sometimes they take in a minor league game in Buffalo. He’s a Yankees’ fan, so he watches the games on TV. Sara’s a Cleveland Indians fan. They make friendly wages on the game. Usually the reward is an ice cream treat. Sara has been a godsend. She’s been with Uncle Morty for three years. She lakes a vacation once we arrive. She fills us in on his routine. Our stay is fun. We talk sports, religion, and politics. Given that we are history teachers. we’ve learned a lot of local history. Morty loves learning about the rich Buffalo history. We get out every day of our vacation with Morty. Lucy speaks Polish and Yiddish with Morty. I pick up some words. I let them have their time. I married into the family. They are family. Both of us were worried on the drive.”

What condition did you find your Uncle Morty? “We arrived midday and Morty was sleeping. The doctor gave him a sedative. We greeted Sara with hugs and words of gratitude. She was anxious. Whatever occurred, this event was new. Sara was a bit shaken. This unplanned trip caught Sara off her regular vacation schedule. We suggested she take time away to gather herself. We would be here with Uncle Morty. Sara waited for Morty to awaken before leaving. We all believed in a smooth delivery. No curve balls, only straight pitches for Morty.”

So this was two days ago? Then how did your arrival get received by Morty? “Once calm. we inquired about his unsettling night. He didn’t want to talk about it. With his permission, we called his doctor for followup information and recommendation. We all convinced him to talk about this experience. We expressed our helplessness in dealing with the possibility of another episode. The doctor said he passed neurological and cognitive tests he performed. Yet, he couldn’t guarantee and rule out another event. Marshall, he only would see a Jewish therapist and no one locally. He knows lots of people from his activities in the community. So, we found you and hope you can help him.”

We set an appointment. Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.

Marshall Greenstein, a Cassadaga resident, holds a masters degree in marriage and family counseling and is a licensed marriage and family counselor and a licensed mental health counselor in New York state. He has regular office hours at Hutton and Greenstein Counseling Services, 501 E. Third St., Suite 2B, Jamestown, 484-7756. For more information or to suggest topics, email editorial@observertoday.com.