Suzanne Oringel Grossman


Child development

The pandemic affected me in a way I could never have imagined. I grew up in a typical urban environment in Forest Hills, NY. We lived in an apartment. Despite going to camp, I never adjusted to the fact that insects, bugs and critters went to camp too. When newly married I lived in Warwick, which compared to NY, felt like the sticks, so I always kept an extra-large can of Raid within reach. If anything moved that was smaller than a grape, I zapped it – Gonzo! And now, even though I’ve lived in RI more than 50 years, coexisting with any sort of critter still freaks me out.

Toward the end of April, in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, I had the most amazing and unexpected experience. I was cleaning the bathroom. A jet black spider, the size of my thumb-nail, was crawling in the sink. Without hesitation, I turned the water on and watched it go down the drain. Suddenly, “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider” was singing in my head. That startled me because nothing except the staggering numbers of people suffering from the coronavirus, the lack of hospital beds and equipment to care for them, and the unrelenting escalating number of deaths caused by the virus with no end in sight entered my mind lately.

Having spent the first years of my career as a pre-school and kindergarten teacher, the embedded lyrics,“and the Itsy-Bitsy spider crawled up the drain again” surfaced. I wondered, could the spider crawl out of the drain? Staring at the drain, I decided if that happens, I will not wash it down again despite my discomfort with spiders. My heart trumped my head. So I kept watch and waited contemplating my next move.

Much to my surprise and delight, the spider emerged crawling frantically to get away from the water that pooled around the edge of the drain. My heart pounded watching the spider’s desperate determination to save itself. It’s my fault you’re in such a predicament. Come-on, you can do it, I silently cheered. But it wasn’t making headway. I knew I had to try and save it. Looking around the bathroom, I took two tissues and shaped them like a cup. Turned it upside down over the spider coaxing it into the tissues with a toothbrush being very careful not to crush it. Got it! Ran down stairs. Opened the door onto the porch and put the tissues on the table holding my breath and lifting them carefully caring only if the spider was alive. IT WAS! “Yes” making a fist and pumping my arm. I was overwhelmed. One would think I won the lottery, or even better, heard a vaccine was approved to eliminate the virus.

I watched the spider crawl over the edge of the table onto the floor and into the yard. Mission accomplished. I was ecstatic because I saved the spider.

Now it’s a memory embedded forever like the song. It happened because I was home quarantined and took time to think slowly. It happened because a long time ago, a simple children’s song inspired me to perform a miracle for a spider. It happened because the life-threatening coronavirus lurked all around me, but something much more powerful propelled me to help a spider live happily ever after.


  1. Sue, that was delightful, brilliantly written and it was great hearing “your voice” again!! Let’s reconnect….even if it’s on computer so that we can catch up….if you like.

    I live in Vermont……actually, since 1963 I believe it was…… across the river from Hanover/Dartmouth. Great state, great community. I am long-retired; after 100 y.o. you get to do that, right?

    I would be delighted to hear from you…..ONLY if you’re old too!!!

    xo Judy FHHS’54/URI ’58

    1. Hi Judy,
      Great to hear from you. Let’s exchange email addresses. Are you still living in Vermont. My cousins lived there for many years. In fact my cousin Mike Bernhardt ran for the governor. Lost to Madelin Kunin and another cousin was president of the Univ. Vermont, Daniel Fogel. My son, Gary, graduated from the university in 1988. We all loved Ben & Jerry’s and Bernie.
      Send your email and I’ll writ back. I’m in touch w. a few former SDTs.

  2. Hi Sue,

    I enjoyed reading your story. As I read it I heard your voice and pictured your face. It made me smile remembering our days at URI.

    If you are ever in Narragansett, let me know as I am hear all summer, actually until early November when we return to Florida.

    Be healthy and stay safe.

    1. Hi Beverly,
      Delightful to hear from you. A wonderful surprise. Also heard from Judy Gold Rocchio. Am in touch w. Linda Shemin Finklesteing and Helen Wysel Topkin and my Big Sister, Sue Heller Delsak, who has suffered w. MS for the last 30+ years. Was in touch w Sue Beidrman. She passed away last year in California where she used to have a winter home. Bumped into Sandy Finklestein Abrams a couple of years ago.
      Is Narragansett a summer address?
      I’m happy to keep in touch via email, but don’t know how to exchange addresses as is won’t be forwarded to you on this site.
      Most important is that you and your family are well.

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