I want to thank all of you who were able to be there on December 20, to help me and my family celebrate my mother. During this pandemic, everything’s been turned upside down, and losing a loved one is especially difficult. Gathering a group of people in a virtual space is not the same as being side by side… but all of you were there to offer your support, and some of you shared your memories. It was heart-warming and I wouldn’t have changed a thing if I could. You all helped me and my family find closure, and you brought me a peace I didn’t think possible so soon after my mother’s death.
I am not going to walk you through a biographical timeline of my mother’s life from her birth on October 25th, 1928, to her death, 5 days before her 92nd birthday on October 20th of this year. Most of you knew her, and her story. What I want to share with you today, is how I will remember her. And how, by watching her, she shaped the woman I am today.
Over the past few years, when my mother grew too weak and unbalanced to go to her appointments alone, I would invariably accompany her. What I found most surprising and truthfully quite disturbing, was when everyone who’d see her, would look at this tiny woman and then turn to me and say, “Oh! She’s soooo cute.” How she hated that! She may have looked cute, but cute is the last adjective in the English language that comes to my mind when I think of my mother. Yes, she was small in stature. At her tallest she stood 5-foot-tall, and more recently a mere 4 ft. 5. But while she was small in stature, her strength of character towered over most. If I had to choose the traits that most described my mother, they would be strength and determination. She was a powerhouse! I think she said it best when she was involved in a fender bender caused by another party. The woman got out of her car and started pointing an accusatory finger at my mother who immediately raised her hand in a stop gesture and said, “You don’t know who you’re starting up with!”
Back in the early 1960’s, when my brother and I were very young, most women stayed home to be housewives and mothers. But that by itself didn’t satisfy my mother who had a college degree. She was a bright woman, and sitting around the playground with other mothers, talking about their children and what they were eating and how they were sleeping, was not intellectually stimulating. My mother decided to go back to school to get a master’s in education and then went on to become a model teacher in the NYC elementary schools. She was the first in the neighborhood to do that, but soon many friends and neighbors began to follow in her footsteps.
My mother was not only academically smart, she was street smart. Her common sense in everyday problem solving was a gift; her advice, priceless. When I followed her suggestions, the outcomes couldn’t have been better. She helped me with my teaching career, a profession I had never considered. Without that advice, I doubt I would’ve been able to retire when I was 59, financially stable, with a lifetime pension. My mom gave me advice when I was dating my husband, and without it I don’t know if we’d be happily married after 36 years today.
My mom embodied the ‘I love NY’ slogan. She was a true New Yorker and couldn’t envision herself living anywhere else. After my parents’ separated, my mother met Sidney Roberts, a kind and loving man, that treated her like a queen and her family as his own. They had a long and beautiful relationship, enjoying New York together. She and Sid took advantage of all that New York had to offer: museums, the theater, ballet, the New York Philharmonic and the Metropolitan Opera; many times bringing us along. Together they ate at NY’s top and trendiest restaurants always looking out for the newest and hippest. My mom loved window shopping on Madison Avenue, frequenting Loehmann’s (may it RIP) and Bergdorf Goodman, and most of all, finding the best bargain.
My mother had high standards when it came to picking friends. She didn’t need friends, just for the sake of having a companion to do things with. She much preferred going places by herself than having to settle for just anybody’s company. But she always held those she did consider her friends, near and dear to her heart.
My mom was a fighter. She wouldn’t be daunted or bullied by large corporations. She took GHI, her health insurance provider to court, and won. And the judge ruled in her favor when she sued Target. She even sued the Statue of Liberty, and once again, she won.
She also fought to get back on her feet after 2 major surgeries, just 2 months apart in 2019, when she was 90! The surgeries were necessary, but she feared that the shock to her system would lead to a worsening of her Parkinson’s Disease, and she was right. As much as she fought to get her strength back, she continued to weaken. Once my mom saw that she wasn’t going to ever be independent again, she said she was ready to say goodbye. She felt fortunate to have lived a long, primarily healthy, and wonderfully fulfilling life.
What drove my mother most was her love, support and devotion to her family.
So, to you mom, wherever you may be, your family wants you to know:
The faith you’ve had in us, has made us ACHIEVERS.
The strength you’ve exhibited, has given us COURAGE.
The nurturing you’ve provided, has made us KIND and CARING.
And the love you’ve showered us with, has made us COMPLETE.
We love you and miss you Mom.