As I was going to sleep last night I was trying to think of what to say about my Mom. The one thing that came to mind immediately was the word selfless…and that is how she lived her entire life. She was the most selfless person I know always caring about the needs of others first, always taking care of others first, always offering to help others first.
The life she lived was not an easy one. Losing her Mom and Dad at a very early age, she was given the responsibility to care for a younger brother and sister. That continued throughout her entire life and never once did she complain. Even though she was fortunate enough to escape the brutality of the era under the Nazi control, she experienced the repercussions it caused through my Dad and his survival. Their story is one of survival but it was centered around love. Love for each other and love for their family and friends.
As many of you may know, my parents are truly the definition of the American dream. After surviving the atrocities of war, they travelled to the U.S. in 1951 and began their new life. It was not an easy road, especially for my Mom who once again was put into a situation where she had to take care of things. My father was very stubborn…hard working…but very stubborn and refused to learn English so my Mom had to work her job and then go to class at night so they could communicate with others. This went on for many years. All the while, they were trying desperately to start a family. After ten years of hoping and trying all kinds of home remedies, like eating watermelon seeds, my parents had a daughter and once again their lives changed. From the very first day I was born, I can tell you my parents lived their lives for me. Now my Dad was part of the “selfless” theme. They both worked tirelessly to make a good life for the three of us. At that time we lived in the Bronx and the environment was becoming a bit sketchy so the decision was made to move to the Charleston, SC where my Dad had a first cousin. And again, a new chapter begins.
They could not have imagined what life would hold for them in the Holy City. After many years of hard work AGAIN, they became the successful business owner of Patrick's Sandwich Shop in a little trailer on Liberty Street. You would have thought they won the lottery! This gave them the chance to provide a life for me that was incredible. I was always surrounded by friends growing up in South Windemere, active in Jewish youth groups and sent to a wonderful private high school. Nothing was too much for their daughter. And once again, Mom was selfless. She continued to do alterations while working at the restaurant just to make sure I had the best of everything. She never cared that she didn’t have the best clothes or jewelry as long as food was on the table and her husband and daughter were cared for. That was my Mom.
I could go on forever citing examples of how she lived her life but most of you have known her for quite a long time and you know she was a kind, loving and generous person. I hope that one day, when people talk about me, they will say “She was just like her mom!”
The last few years have been tough for my Mom. For a person that always served as caretaker, it was finally her turn to be taken care of…and that was difficult for her. Her health issues were becoming too much for her to handle. Many hospital stays and multitudes of medications are what I believe led to her sudden demise. It was just too much and she was tired.
But even through all of her health issues, there was never a time when we spoke when her first question was “how is everyone?”…again, always putting others first.
For the first time in many years, Mom wanted to celebrate Passover this past year. Since my Father’s death, it was difficult to get her to celebrate the holidays because she said it wasn’t the same without Daddy there. But this year, something was different. She came over for Sedar and cooked. It was fantastic. The kids helped and she got to spend time just doing what she did…taking care of others. It was a glorious time to spend together and one that will supercede the sadness we feel today with her loss. We will always be able to look back and remember the time we spent together with her that day and reflect back on all the times we spent loving her for always taking care of us
We found something in her apartment that obviously was special to her and I think it’s something my Mom would have said if she were here today. I’d like to share it with you.
I have only slipped away into the next room.
Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.
Call me by my old familiar name, speak with me in the easy way which you always used to.
Laugh as we always laughed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be the household word it always was.
Let it be spoken without effort.
Life means all that we ever meant.
It is the same as it ever was; there is absolutely unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of your mind because I am out of your sight?
I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just around the corner.
All is well. Nothing is past; nothing is lost.
One brief moment and all will be as it was before – only better, infinitely happier and forever – we will all be one together with God.