It’s hard to believe that one year has passed since we said our final goodbye to our dear mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. Not a day has passed since that I don’t think of her. Out of the fifty years that I was blessed to know my mother for thirty five of them she suffered from the progressive effects of Parkinson’s Disease. And yet, in spite of all her suffering, I can only picture her face with a big smile. Her courageous spirit and positive outlook never left her and was an example that we can all learn from. I can hardly remember her ever complaining. She showed true determination to make the best of her situation and never to wallow in self pity. Her sense of humor never left her and even in her last days when speaking was difficult she would always smile or laugh at a humorous story.
My mother was a very modest woman who always put the needs of others before hers. Whether it was the Kibbud Av Vo’Aim which she showed her parents, the devotion which she had to my late father, the care and respect which she demonstrated to her parents-in-law or the motherly love which she showered upon her children, she always put herself last. One example of the many which stands out in my mind was the concern which she showed for her mother-in-law, my grandmother. My father pre-deceased his mother by a year and a half. Although my mother was physically no longer capable of helping her mother-in-law, every time I spoke to her or visited her she would ask how my grandmother was and whether she was being well taken care of. As my grandmother lived in an apartment down the hall from her she asked that every Shabbos when we visited after shul that we take her over to visit my grandmother. This could sometimes be a bit of an ordeal but she insisted.
Although my sisters and I were able to fulfill our mother’s wish that she should never go to a nursing home her final three days were spent at Mount Sinai Medical Center where she received the most wonderful care. She was admitted in the early hours of Friday morning. Shuli and I had the privilege of spending her last Shabbos together with her. Looking for a shul to daven in I found Congregation Orach Chaim on Lexington Avenue and 95th Street. It was a beautiful shul and the members were very friendly and welcoming. Something about the shul rang a bell and then I realized that it was in this very shul that my mother had davened on the first Shabbos after she arrived in the United States with her parents, brother and sister seventy years before in February 1939 before they moved to Washington Heights. Of course I didn’t realize it at the time, but how symbolic was it that she was to spend her final Shabbos in the same neighborhood. She had come full circle. I actually think it was a bit ironic as my mother told the story of how for their second Shabbos in this country my grandparents along with my aunt and uncle were invited to spend it in Washington Heights. Unfortunately they somehow forgot to invite my mother. She always said that she was so upset at the time that she said she would never want to move there!
My mother was very proud of her heritage and was always cognizant that she would be seen as a representative of her illustrious family. She always told how her mother would always tell her and her siblings before leaving home “MME” which stood for the German saying “Mach mir ehre” which translates “Make me honor (proud)”. After my grandmother passed away my uncle had small gold pins which had MME on them and gave them to his siblings. My mother truly fulfilled her mother’s wish. I hope that my mother is now looking down at us from the Olom Ho’emes as she sees us continuing her special legacy and she can say with her ever present smile MME.