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There is an old Yiddish proverb, when the heart is full, the eyes overflow. And so it is the case when we try to sum up and honor my mother’s life.
My mother was a difficult, unusual and complex woman. She loved her daughters, Barbara, Wendy and myself, her sons-in law, Marty, John and David, her grandchildren Kenny, Cory and her stepgrandchildren, Mandy and Taryn, But if she loved her children, she absolutely adored her husband, my father. My Father was the truly abiding center and great passion of my mother’s life, as she was his, and knowing that they were coming up on their sixtieth anniversary only just barely gives you a glimpse at the strength of their love.
My mother was not big on verbal or physical expressions of her love, but rather she showed us with her actions. And she often used food as a way of showing her love.
She was a very good cook at many foods but she was an extraordinary cook when it came to particular dishes. Like her spaghetti sauce. Most of you here might have met my mother after she retired from spaghetti sauce making, but she used to cook sauce for three days in a 20 quart army pot. Then she would freeze it into quart containers for her children and her own use. Whenever we came to visit her, we would go home on the plane with a shopping bag filled with frozen containers. We felt sorry for those who were not so fortunate as to have the spaghetti sauce queen for a mother.
Her Jello pie was famous in our household- whenever we came down we could always count on one there. God have mercy on us when all three of us were there with only one jello pie. And my Aunt Harriet, my mother’s sister, who loved my mother very much, was never jealous in spite of the fact that my mother could so deftly make this pie, while my Aunt’s could never stay put. My Aunt understood my mother’s talents.
Years ago, when I was 16 I got mono. It was a whole thing. My sister came over, I was taken by ambulance to the hospital and when they brought me home, I didn’t seem to have an appetite. During the nights of fever she would come in to my bedroom, change the sweat soaked sheets, and put me back to bed.
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She never liked to see anyone hurt or abused—in real life or the movies. She championed the underdog and was chilly to any movie star who divorced his wife.
Probably nothing pleased me or my sisters or my father more than making my mother laugh. When my mother laughed, she really laughed. The last time I was in Florida, my father asked me to clean the pool for him. I picked up that long pool cleaner and really couldn’t seem to control it that well. Like a bad slapstick routine I almost broke half of the things around the pool and almost loped off trees, broke windows. Well she and my father stood and laughed and I tell you if you ever saw her laugh—I mean she KNEW how to laugh. Her face, her body, she would hold her sides. She would laugh at a certain episode of MASH no matter how many times she saw it ---- when she in the hospital over 35 years ago she would laugh over a certain chicken commercial—and it brought such happiness to all of us to see her laugh.
Rabbi Jonathan Omer-man once wrote that -- In each incarnation we weave or unravel a few more stitches in the garment of life. At a certain point, one has finished and can go home.
Well my mother has gone home now. And as we remember her and mourn the hole in our heart that is now with us all, we can take comfort in Psalms.
"You will find refuge under Gods wings…you need not fear the terror by night…God’s angels will guard you wherever you go and carry you in their hands."
I love you Mommy –but I know that somewhere you’re in Heaven—cooking up a storm for all those Angels. I know we will all see you again and get another piece of Jello pie.