Here we are a week away from the one year anniversary of my mother’s death as I start this blog post. I haven’t done anything to create the post all year that I intended to do long before now. I remember that last year at this time we were on “death watch”. Mom had a catastrophic fall the day before Thanksgiving from which she did not recover. She died December 15, 2017. What follows is what I read at the memorial that we had for her near my sister’s house in northern Virginia. I’m also including the recap of her life that we included in the program for her memorial. And finally, some photos from her life as well as a link to the slide show that my brother-in-law created and played at her memorial.
Most people know that I’m a carbon copy of my mother. I look and sound just like her. So, I wanted to share some of those stories as well as others from my mother’s life. When I was growing up Mom’s friend Jean Fagan would call periodically. And every time that I answered she would always say “Hi Goldie, how are you?” And I would inevitably say “Hi Jean. It’s Toby.” And Jean would always say “Oh!! You sound just like your mother!” You don’t say!! Every time I would visit my Aunt Lilah and Uncle Roy, Aunt Lilah would always tell me how much I looked like my mother. One time I visited close to my birthday and Aunt Lilah wanted to buy me a birthday gift and asked what I needed. I happened to need white shoes so she took me shopping. As I tried on the first pair and started walking around Aunt Lilah said “you even walk like your mother!!” That was one I had never heard before.
My favorite look-alike story happened at my cousin Lou’s wedding in Phoenix years ago. Most of the out-of-towners stayed at the same motel. I knew that my Uncle Roy had one brother but I don’t believe I had ever met him before. If I did, I was young and didn’t remember him. As I was walking along a corridor at the motel a man who resembled Uncle Roy was walking towards me. So I said “you must be Roy’s brother.” And without missing a beat he said “and you must be Goldie’s daughter.” Such fun memories.
There were certain things that got Mom to laugh. One of those was that whenever I visited Mom I would say upon seeing her and giving her a hug “are you my mother?” That was one of my favorite books by Dr. Seuss when I was little. There is one instance of this that really stands out and it’s from the last couple of years. I was visiting Mom at my sister Nina’s house and when I said “are you my mother?” her face lit up and she exclaimed “you always used to say that didn’t you??” That just warmed my heart to know that she remembered that until the end.
Another story is one that my sister just loves to hear. Ha ha! When Nina and I were teenagers Mom took us to Hawaii for vacation. I don’t remember much from that trip but this story is one that has stuck because I could always get a laugh out of Mom. Whenever the three of us were together I would always find a way to work this in at some point. We were heading out one day on that Hawaiian trip and Mom and I were at the elevator in the hotel waiting for Nina. But Nina was not right behind us like we thought. So I called down the hall “Nina, the elevator’s here!!” to try and get her to emerge from the hotel room. Well, that phrase came up many times over the years whenever Nina was dawdling and I would say “Nina, the elevator’s here!!” and Mom would always giggle. Mom and I were always on time. Nina? Not so much.
Lastly I wanted to share that my mother was one of my best friends. We shared so many of the same values and opinions and talked on the phone a lot. We both loved to laugh and I remember watching the series Soap with her and giggling. She visited me the year The Princess Bride was out and we went to see it. We spent most of the time laughing. We loved watching Dodger games and figure skating too. And she was somewhat prescient, or she was good at just plain guessing. When we chatted after Barack Obama gave his speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention she blurted out “That man’s going to be president some day!!” Okay, probably many people said that. But I remember being struck by that comment, especially when it came to pass. When I was in my mid 20s and wondering if I was going to get married she said “You will. And it’s going to be someone you already know.” Even that came to pass. My husband and I actually met in the early 80s but didn’t get together until 1988. When I struggled to get pregnant and cried on the phone to her over nearly three years she was always comforting and reassured me that it would happen. And of course she was right.
When her dementia got worse and I could no longer talk to her like I used to, I felt like I lost my best friend. She was still here physically but we could no longer hold a conversation. I have one last memory of the last time I saw her. My daughter and I visited over Labor Day weekend last year. We were all going to go to church that Sunday but I woke up with a headache and decided to skip church and rest. I sat in the living room with Mom and at one point she looked over at me and just stared. I waved and said “Hi Mom!!” and she smiled and said hi. I’ll never forget the look on her face as she stared at me. Did she not remember me? Or was she wondering why I was there since I wasn’t part of her daily routine? I’ll never know but I’m glad I had those moments with her.
I’m so grateful that I had her for as long as I did. I will never forget her love for her entire family, her compassion for her fellow human being and just her pleasant demeanor. She was the best mom a girl could have. Thank you Mom for your loving-kindness and compassion. I love you.
This was in the program for her memorial:
Goldie was born April 30, 1923 in Chicago, Illinois, the daughter of Samuel and Pearl Leiderman. She married Israel (Izzy) Nadler on July 24, 1945 in the First Romanian Congregation synagogue in Chicago by Rabbi Tevele Cohen while Izzy was on a 34-day furlough from the U.S. Army. They had three children, Joel in 1947, Nina in 1958, and Toby in 1960. The family moved to southern California in 1969 but two years later Izzy died.
Goldie married Gilbert Katz in 1976 and in 1986 they retired to southern Florida. Goldie became involved in singing groups and played bridge and mah jong regularly. She and 10 of her singing group friends won the Florida lottery in 2010 and she was able to live without financial stress until she moved in with Nina and her family in March 2015.
Nina was Goldie’s primary caregiver until she died in 2017. Goldie had 3 children, 6 grandchildren and one great granddaughter. Goldie lived a long, full and happy life during her 94 years. We are very grateful that we had her for as long as we did.
What follows is a photo tribute to my mother’s life starting with her on her wedding day in 1945.
A gallery of moments in her life:
I intended to create this post during the year since Mom died. Instead I put it together in the last week so that I could post it on the one year anniversary of her passing. Some of the photos in the gallery here are photos from pages of a scrapbook that I created for her 80th birthday. That’s why you see some embellishments and photos in colorful frames. I tried to include as much from her life as possible without it being overwhelming. It’s a pretty good overall summary of her life in photos.
Rest in peace my darling mother. I miss you.
In closing, here’s a poem I came across years ago:
Your mother is always with you…
She’s the whisper of the leaves as you walk down the street,
She’s the cool hand on your brow when you’re not well.
Your mother lives inside your laughter,
And she’s crystallized in every tear drop.
She’s the place you came from, your first home,
And she’s the map you follow with every step you take.
She’s your first love and your first heartache,
And nothing on earth can separate you,
No amount of time…and no amount of distance.
~ Author Unknown