As Memorial Day approaches, I have been thinking a lot about people who have passed in my lifetime and deserve memorializing. Here’s my list, with a short explanation of how each has taught and touched me.
- Bubbie (derived from Yiddish for “grandmother”): Florence Shafner was my mother’s mother. She ignited a passion for teaching in me. My favorite memory: her telling me stories of her college days in the 1930s.
- Zadie (derived from Yiddish for “grandfather”): Raphael Shafner was my mother’s father. He taught me frugality and the value of service to others. My favorite memories: the rows and rows of paper towels and apple juice in their basement (if it’s on sale, you buy a lot!) and the deep commitment he had to supporting his synagogue – from serving on the board to supervising maintenance of its cemetery.
- Grandma: Beatrice Fishbone was my father’s mother (I did not know my father’s father – he died before I was born). She taught me how to show love explicitly – this was not common in the rest of my family. My favorite memory: she often told me about how much she enjoyed working in a department store in NYC in the 1930s and always liked to make sure that I was enjoying my work.
- Aunt Ruthie: Ruth Joan Brody, whom I have blogged about before, was the woman who introduced my father and mother. She taught me that gay people are to be accepted and loved as any other human beings and that serving others is a joy. My favorite memories: her hearty laugh amidst Sunday breakfasts with her gay friends and watching her delight in running our temple’s bingo game (a big source of revenue!) and tutoring special needs children in weekly Hebrew school.
- Aunt Bunny and Uncle Hy: Bunny and Hy Rodensky were my Bubbie’s sister and brother-in-law. They taught me about the light, humorous side of life. My favorite memory: Thanksgiving dinner at their house with both of them cracking jokes left and right.
Bubbie, Zadie, Grandma, Aunt Ruthie, Aunt Bunny, and Uncle Hy – I miss you. You live on in me.
Who’s on your list? Make this Memorial Day your Memorial Day – I highly recommend that you write a list like the one I have shared. You may be sad at first, but I am sure a smile will eventually grow on your face and you will feel a warmth that spans beyond this world.