Wednesday, February 20, 2013

To know her was to love her

Mom and her brother, Walter, November 2012

My mother was one of those special people, beloved by nearly everyone she met.

She had a warmth, a natural curiosity about people. Spend five minutes with her and she'd know your life story, the names of your children and where your ancestors came from.

She was also genuinely gracious, sincerely grateful to everyone for everything done for her.

In the hospital, in her very last days, she even whispered a "Thank you" to the nurse giving her a shot of vitamin K. The nurse turned to me, her face alight, and told me she had never been thanked before for giving a patient an injection.

That was Mom.

Mom & me, Mothers Day 2012

The staff at the nursing home were shocked when I called to give them the news. "Oh, no! Not our DDF!" they all cried.

That was her particular nomenclature: I have been her D.D.D. for years - Dear, Darling Daughter  - (and she my D.D.M.). And the women who looked after her at the home had become her D.D.F. -  Dear, Darling Friends.

My father, as much as he loved his family, was defined by his life's work: his photography.

My mother, like so many women (especially of her generation), was defined by her relationships, the people she loved and who loved her. And at this she excelled, oh so well.

Mom and her Grandson, Simon, November 2012
Granddaughter Rachel visiting with Mom, February, 2012

Mom found so much joy in parenthood, and found that joy doubled as a grandmother, seeing her feelings replicated in me. She loved watching me revel in my own children, yet another bond between us: we were both mothers.

Mom and Jake, August 2012
Mom & Ethan, on her 89th birthday, September, 2011

Mom made friends everywhere she went. At Carnegie East House, the assisted living community she had moved into with my father, and where she continued to live as a widow until her disastrous, hip-breaking fall last May, she had two close friends of a similar temperament: smart, funny, artistic, literate, left-leaning and bohemian. Not your typical "little old ladies" by any stretch of the imagination.

They called themselves "The 3 Musketeers" and took every opportunity to laugh at the foibles of old age and their situation, vowing not to become like some of the farbissinas* at the joint.

Mom and her friends at Carnegie East, 2011

The reason I chose the specific facility I did for mom's rehab stint (which then became her permanent nursing home) was that at the time, my Aunt Eva, her sister-in-law, was herself rehabbing there, as it was less than a mile from her Port Washington home.

Mom & Eva at the nursing home, June 2012

Even after Eva returned home, being so close to mom's brother Walter meant that he visited often, allowing them to spend much time in the last few months of her life. Also my cousins and their kids got to stop by and visit with my mom - their dear Aunt Sylvia - whenever they came to town.
Mom & niece Annette, July 2012
Mom & grand-niece Greta, July, 2012
Mom & Walter, October 2012
Mom so appreciated Walter's visits, always showing off the flowers he had brought (as he always did), marveling at how nice it was to have fresh flowers in her room.

Mom & niece Jessie, November 2011
Mom & grand-niece Ilana, November 2011

My mom: making friends everywhere she went...

Mom & Santa, December 2010 know her was to love her.

I certainly did.

* Yiddish for embittered sourpusses.


  1. She had the most beautiful smile, didn't she. Love to you, V.

  2. Thank you for sharing her and for sharing your journey.

  3. I never met her, but I love your mom even more with every post you write about her.

  4. Yes, thank you for sharing her with all of us. I, for one, am touched.

  5. I think I love her, too -- there's such warmth and humor in every single picture of her -- in her eyes and in her smile and in the way she leans into everyone she's with.

  6. I love her.

    Because you have shown her to us. THANK YOU.

  7. It's a nice tribute, Varda. Great pictures with the family.

  8. Your mom's smile was beautiful, and I can see from your pictures here that she shared it readily. Thanks for sharing her smile and her light with us. It is a gift.

  9. every time you write about her, I just well up. She was such a light in this world, look at all those smiles.

    thank you for giving her to us, in pictures and words.

  10. I can see how loving and loved she was!!


I am so sorry to have to turn word verification back on, but the spam-bots have found me - yikes!