Woman of Valor, Who Can Find One?


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We all know that this day came too soon. I thought I had so much time before I had to sit here writing this eulogy. I thought I’d get home from Israel and she’d be sitting up in bed, making a joke about how she had to pull this elaborate stunt just to get us back to the states.

Because my mom mom loved us so, so much. She would do anything for us, her children, her diamonds. Her love was more than emotional, it was tangible. You could feel it in every cup of tea, every bowl of addicting-as-crack-cocaine macaroni salad; every word of advice, and every hug and kiss she gave. We wear her love like a warm sweater on a cold day, surround ourselves with it to shield us from any storm.

As the family peacemaker, mom mom was the glue that held everything together, from Passover Seders, which she started planning on Rosh Hashana, to remembering to give birthday presents way before your birthday month was even due. Mom mom never put up with any arguing, especially between Becca and me, and somehow managed to diffuse any situation without getting agitated herself.

Mom mom was the kind of person that could be happy anywhere, from watching the horses cross the field at Golden Acres to sipping tea on her porch across from Whole Foods, if mom mom wanted something, she went for it on her own. And she always succeeded, most times beating the odds. She encouraged and pushed in the kindest and gentlest way, and she never ceased to tell us how proud she was of all of us just for being exactly who we are.

It was no secret that mom mom was smart, but she never flaunted her accomplishments – she left that up to pop pop, who would call her Dr. Janet just because she earned it. I even think that every once in a while she would play the role of the ditzy blonde so as not to let on just exactly how smart she really was. But once you figured it out, you had access to a wealth of knowledge, advice, and experience that would get you through any challenge you faced. And she shared it, willingly and readily.

Mom mom taught me a lot of different lessons, but the most important one I learned by example, and I hope that one day I can emulate her in it. That’s the lesson of unconditional love. That when you think that you’ve given everything you have, there’s always a little more. That love doesn’t have limits – hers most certainly did not.

I thought that we had so much more time. There are so many things I’d love to say to mom mom, so many things that I’ll never get the chance to tell her. But the one that I know that she knew; I know that she knows that I love her so, so much. We all do. And that we will always carry her love in our hearts, everywhere we go, for the rest of our lives. Thank you for the gift of your love.

 

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

E.E. Cummings

 

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in

my heart)i am never without it(anywhere

i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done

by only me is your doing,my darling)

                                                      i fear

no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want

no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)

and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant

and whatever a sun will always sing is you

 

here is the deepest secret nobody knows

(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud

and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows

higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)

and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

 

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

 

 

Kaddish


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Pop Pop dancing at my wedding, a memory I will cherish forever.

For any of you that knew my Pop Pop, you know that this isn’t the first time I’ve thought about doing this. For the past five years, my Pop Pop has been very sick, and my family and I have prepared for this day more than once.

But when I think about my Pop Pop, I don’t think about how sick he was, or how he looked, walked, talked, or felt over the past few years. The Pop Pop I remember, and whom I want all of you to remember, was much bigger than anything or anyone I’ve ever known in my whole life.

He was so tall, that when he took my sister and me to Golden Acres Dude Ranch in Gilboa, NY, the only kosher Dude Ranch of its kind; they actually had to bring a horse out of retirement so that he could ride it.

He appreciated the little things in life, and loved telling jokes. I spent many hours in the car wondering just where this man Ishkabible Fafufnick actually lived and if we would ever get to Jepip, and for years I thought that if my sister and I stayed up talking in our bedroom in their house, our other house, that our noses would really start to grow.

He called us, his family, his diamonds – and he cherished us beyond belief. My sister and I grew up with an idea of piety and faith because of him; practiced the alef-beis until our faces were blue time and time again. It always amazed us that a man who had seen as much as he had, who had experienced loss the way that he had, could still believe so steadfastly in G-d. My grandfather knew how to love, and he was a holy man; a man who upheld his faith in the face of many different types of adversity.

I don’t want to say goodbye to my grandfather; rather, I want to say that I will see him later, in another life, or another realm, soon, in our own days.

Dor L’Dor


I met my father-in-law today for the first time.

We’ve been talking about going to visit for years, really, but he’s so far away. And I knew that it would be difficult, but I had no idea how hard it would really be. I know so much about him, but still so little. I know all of his memories. All of Jonathan’s memories of him, right down to the salami sandwiches he used to eat that drove my mother-in-law crazy enough that she’d kick him to the foot of the bed to eat them.

He always made Jonathan one, too.

I like to think that he’d like me. Ema says that he would have loved me; would have welcomed me into the family with open arms. From what I know about my father-in-law, I can’t imagine that he wouldn’t have welcomed me with open arms, whether he liked me or not.

I always knew that Jonathan grew up without a father. I always say that he raised his brother and sister, 7-year-old turned father and husband. One of my earliest memories of our relationship (I was 16!) I remember his mother being on the phone with the insurance company, for one reason or another. She didn’t understand what the insurance agent was saying, so she put Jonathan on the phone. Just like a wife would put her husband on the line to clarify, to toughen up the agent so that she could get what she needed. She had Jonathan for that.

When people ask him if it was difficult to grow up without a father, he always says no. He doesn’t have a choice about not having a father but he had a choice about whether to make it difficult. He chose not to.

But to reach each milestone without a father – that is difficult. When Jonathan walked down the aisle at our wedding, he walked down with his mother. I walked down with my parents, mom and dad. He’s smiling so wide; he didn’t even feel the emptiness on his right arm. But it was still there. And Jonathan’s father was on everyone’s mind in that moment. My best friends cried for him when they saw his empty arm.

Today, standing in front of a stone slab that read my father-in-law’s name, the reality sunk in for me, for the first time. The truth is, I never thought about Jonathan’s father as my father-in-law. He was always Jonathan’s father. But today, I realized.

Today, I really met my father-in-law for the first time. I realized that he’s not just Jonathan’s father, he’s my father now, too. And when we take our children to visit him, we’re going to be taking them to a concrete slab, and telling them that it’s their grandfather.

Today, my husband turned to me and said, “It really doesn’t get easier.”

From everything that I know about my father-in-law, he would be so proud of his oldest child. Everything that Jonathan does would make him very, very proud.

They say that on your wedding day, the souls of all of your family members come down from shamayim and stand beside you under the chuppah, to usher your now-complete soul into the world with the ultimate amount of holiness behind it. I know that Jonathan’s father, my father-in-law was there. I drank sweet wine out of his kiddush cup. Everyone felt his warmth.

And I know that in a lot of ways, he’s still here. But mostly, he’s in Jonathan. Even though he was so young when his father died, he has so much of his father in him. Their mannerisms, their passions, all the same – even the resemblance is uncanny. So, when ema says that my father-in-law would have loved me, I believe her. Because I love their son so much.

Today, I met my father-in-law for the first time. And we’re going to go visit more often.

I don’t know what you had for dinner, but tonight, we’re having salami sandwiches.