She truly was a special person -- caring and giving and always more concerned about others than about herself.
She worshiped her parents. And she was happy and fulfilled with the love of her life, my father Jack. They had more than 50 years together.
Family was always a top priority for her. She loved her grandchildren and was lucky enough to know her great-grandchildren.
Mom could see beauty anyplace. She would often look up into the sky and see things in the shapes of the clouds, pointing to a cloud that made her think of an animal or a face. Sometimes she'd see things in the shape of a tree. Always good things, though.
Mom always saw the good in people. And she loved to talk, even to strangers, to hear their stories and tell them her stories. I can't tell you how many times we'd go to the diner for coffee or breakfast and she'd get into a lengthy conversation with strangers at the next table. Just a couple of years ago, when that happened, the woman she was talking to came over to me and asked if she could borrow my mother and keep her as her own.
She loved music. She was often humming some song or other, even recently. I remember as a kid always hearing the radio on, with Mom harmonizing to the songs that were playing. Her favorite was Ella. I grew up hearing songs like "A Tisket a Tasket, I Lost My Yellow Basket" as Mom sang along with Ella Fitzgerald. She told me she went to see her in concert at the Apollo many times when she was young.
She learned to love the Opera from my grandfather. My grandparents had a stationery story and in those days, it was a 7-days-a-week job. On Saturday afternoons, my grandfather would treat himself to a few hours off to listen to the Metropolitan Opera broadcasts on the radio and my mother would sit with him and listen. She got to know all the great operas.
I'm so fortunate that I was able to spend time with her, when she was already in her late 80s, going to jazz concerts. A few times a year, we'd go down to Harlem to hear jazz at the Manhattan School of Music. Sometimes, they'd encourage the audience to get up and dance in the aisles, and my Mom was always the first one up there.
My dad was a musician - a trumpet player. She used to say, to my embarrassment, "You've never been kissed till you've been kissed by a trumpet player."
Mom also loved animals. Growing up we always had birds and a dog. As a teenager and into her early 20's she rode regularly at the stables nearby. She once found a dog huddled by the back door during a snowstorm. After unsuccessfully trying to find the owner, she adopted that little white ball of fur and HoneyBear became her forever dog.
My Mom was always about helping others, and she was especially drawn to people in need - she called them wounded birds. Many years ago she volunteered when her friend, whose daughter was mentally handicapped, started a summer camp for kids with mental disabilities. She gave so much of her time and her love to those kids over several years. When she retired, she worked for many years as a teachers aide in the neighborhood grade school. If she saw a kid who was having trouble fitting in, she'd be there and take him or her under her wing, helping build their self confidence. I think her mission in life was to help others however she could.
She was the best mommy a kid could have had. I am so lucky she was mine. We didn't have a lot growing up, but I never ever felt neglected or needy. I had love, so I was rich. I'm lucky to have such great memories of growing up, and all the creative and sometimes silly things Mom did for Shari and me, to make us happy. And from her, we learned some of life's great lessons -- all people are equal and should always be treated with respect. And you don't have to have a lot of money to be rich.
So she's gone from us now, but only physically. Her spirit, her love of life and her goodness will always be alive... in me and Shari, in our kids and in so many others that she touched during her 94 years.
enjoying a sunny afternoon... June 18, 2017