Monday, April 4, 2016

Dinner With Dad

Well, my mother...who never met an event she could not organize....organized herself into having dinner with my Dad...and probably the rest of the gang was there, too. All last week she'd been saying she was ready to meet Dad for dinner. After the Junior Son and I called the Senior Son late Friday night to tell him to come home and we told her we'd called, I think she decided to wait for him to arrive. 

She was so happy to see him when he walked through that door. 

When the phone rang at 8:20 Sunday morning as I was getting ready to leave for morning minyan, I saw the word SHOLOM and I knew. I cannot say I was surprised or shocked; I think it was almost a relief. She said she was ready to go, and she was. Her body had come to the end of its ability to bounce back even if her brains thought otherwise.

Mom was lucid until the end. She told people she loved them. She seemed to have made peace with herself and her own world. When I kissed her goodnight late Saturday night, she did not respond as she usually did, and I think I knew this was my last goodnight kiss.

It was hard to see my mom, that grand tower of strength and defiance, lying there, breathing softly, and not responding to my kiss on her brow. She looked so frail, so weak. Not much like my mom. 

During the last few months of my Dad's life, she was Tiger Woman, defending the love of her life as he slowly slipped into the Olam ha'Bah, the World to Come. She could be fierce and demanding, but I never saw her in that attitude when it was not warranted by what she determined to be Dad's needs. I also listened to her say some unkind words about people she believed had wronged our family in one way or another, and once her respect for you was gone, it was unlikely to ever be fully restored. She was staunchly loyal, but rarely blind. I learned a lot from her this last year... lessons in being strong, lessons in compromise, lessons in how to bend but still manage to get your own way, lessons in how to live with yourself after disaster. 

She cared deeply for many causes, and even on her last day, Mom asked me to turn on the news. I did, she listened, and then asked, "What? Trump isn't dead yet?" I know she meant his candidacy, but it was pretty funny all the same. Her stalwart support of Hillary Clinton never ceased to amaze me. She was always the leftist in our family, so I thought for sure she would be feeling the Bern, but no; she wanted to live long enough to see a woman president. Not too long ago, she told me she had three goals: to be there for Little Miss's second birthday in October, to dance at the Senior Son's wedding a week later, and to vote in the 2016 Presidential election a few days after that. "I don't wanna see Daddy until I can tell him I voted for Hillary, and that Hillary won." Dad would have apoplexy ... even in the Olam ha'Bah....and she knew it. 

We, her family and close friends, were well aware of her follies and her foibles, her impatience with incompetence, and general dislike of laziness. Like the man she married, she was an ethical human being who was, in matters of civil rights for ALL, way ahead of her time. Her intolerance for intolerance was a running theme this last year, and she was pretty vocal about it. I think this primary season really upset her more than she let on....except when it was just us sitting around her room...and she would let the TV-news anchors have it. 

The boys knew their Bubbe as their very first, very bestest friend. She was always ready for an adventure, there was always time to talk. She wanted to hear anything and everything they had to say. Bubbe was comfort, she was advice, she was present. There was nothing Bubbe could not make happen, and even when they were kidlets  no more, Bubbe was still the foundation rock. It was the Junior son who pulled the plug, so to speak, on their condo living and convinced them to come to Minnesota. He and Mrs. Junior Son dangled the carrot called Little Miss....and north they came. Even the Senior Son, albeit in that other state next door, was in driving distance of Bubbe and Zayde...and saw them more this year than ever. This year, this gift, of having them close at hand, marveling at the wonder that is Little Miss....priceless. 

When someone dies, people always try to say nice things about them. And Mom's is no different. Lots of people, over the course of the last year, have talked to me  about what a great presence she was, her tenacity, her ability to help others, her kind and loving words to so many people. This morning, as I was in her room picking up a few things, there was a constant stream of Sholom staff telling me what a difference she made in their lives, and at Sholom itself. Everyone told me how she always asked about their lives, their kids, their challenges, and how she always had follow-up questions when she saw them again. That she remembered and asked made them love her to bits. She knew everything about everyone, and kept it close. She was not a gossip.  On the other hand, we called it being nosy when she did it to us. I guess we never realized how precious that made her to others. 

Mom was far more than just the sum of her parts. She was many things to many people. In the end, however, only one thing mattered to her: she was our Mom, our Bubbe, our friend, our defender, and we would take her forward in our hearts. No doubt about that. 

I really hope the party at Aunt Ruth's last night was one giant shindig. 

May her memory forever be a blessing.

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
That's all.


  1. Oh my Dearest Susan, you are the perfect blend of both of your awesome parents!! They were such a blessing to all that met them. They live on in you. I have a feeling that Little Miss might have been blessed by a bit of that tenacity and hopefully writing ability so the heartfelt opinions, stories, and words of wisdom from the Schwaidelson Siegfried family will continue to be shared/blogged for many years to come! Sorry that I will not be able to be there with you in person but, I will be there with you and the family in my heart and prayers!!

  2. Dear Susan,

    When I heard about your mother's passing, I knew you would write a beautiful memoir of her life. I will keep it forever.

    My love to you and your family.

    Lorraine Hertz

  3. What a beautiful tribute... May her memory always be for a blessing.

  4. Lovely comments about your mother.May her memory be a blessing.

  5. My heartfelt condolences. I feel truly honored that you shared this tribute to your mother.

  6. very moving, thanks so much for sharing, may her memory be only for a blessing.

  7. It was good really reading your blog on your mother it's been a hard year for us and I know she's up there with them all as you say having a good time she'll be sorely missed I miss our weekly phone calls to you Susan God give you strength to continue on love Auntie G

  8. So sorry for your loss. The pictures are wonderful!