Writing That Paper by
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Prompted By Procrastination

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With my brother, 2017

Though he is five years my elder, my brother and I have always been close. He is super-smart and he did help me with some homework when I was a kid and looked to him for guidance. He left for Brandeis as I began 8th grade. My mother’s sisters predicted that I would flunk out of school. Just to spite them, I proceeded to get straight A’s for the next five years. I may not be as smart as Rick, but I’m no slouch.

I missed him very much; even more when he went off to Israel for two years to study for the rabbinate just as I began my college life at Brandeis. Then we really could barely communicate, except by aerogram and we were both too busy for many of those. I was very happy when he returned just as I entered my Junior year. He was in Cincinnati at Hebrew Union College, I was in Waltham, MA. A long distance call was expensive. Yet, there were times when I just needed to spit ball.

I and not, by nature, a procrastinator, but I didn’t like writing long papers and would put those off. Talking to Rick was a great way to procrastinate. We’d talk about everything under the sun, but also, I’d bounce ideas for the paper off of him. He was always a good sounding board for me; about my school work or life in general, a win-win. After a good conversation with him, I was full of ideas and ready to tackle the subject at hand.

In retrospect, thanks Rick, for being such a great big brother! You are compassionate and clever and have given me lots of great advice along the way.


Profile photo of Betsy Pfau Betsy Pfau
Retired from software sales long ago, two grown children. Theater major in college. Singer still, arts lover, involved in art museums locally (Greater Boston area). Originally from Detroit area.

Characterizations: moving, well written


  1. Betsy, Thanx for this sweet tribute to your big brother Rick, you two have an enviable relationship – not all siblings do!
    And so nice to have a wise and compassionate rabbi in the family!

  2. Marian says:

    Aw, that’s delightful, Betsy, that you have Rick as a sounding board. Your procrastination was really constructive in this case.

  3. Suzy says:

    Lovely story about a great sibling relationship! I like that you would procrastinate by making a long-distance call to Rick. But you could also bounce ideas off of him, so maybe it wasn’t really procrastinating, it was just doing the prep work for writing your papers. Sweet pic of the two of you too.

    • Betsy Pfau says:

      Thanks, Suzy. That’s a charitable way to think about it. For sad reasons (a death in the family), we’ve spoken several times a day for the past several days. I told him about this story. He doesn’t remember that I called him so often, but appreciated the sentiment.

  4. Khati Hendry says:

    That is indeed a lovely story about your brother. It is always great to find something to procrastinate with that brings its own rewards-in this case enjoying time with your brother. I often am very productive while avoiding something else.

  5. Laurie Levy says:

    How lucky you were to have such a great big brother who was also a friend and mentor. You weren’t procrastinating, you were gaining wisdom.

  6. Betsy, this is a really nice story. How great for you to have your brother–wise, compassionate, loving—by your side (emotionally if not in the same time zone), and it is my surmise how great for him to have you.

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