Mamma has been more than a Mother. For many years, she has been my responsibility, my friend, my companion, my partner, my comfort, my emotional anchor and my teacher by example. Mamma provided the meaning of my existence.
Throughout our shared life, Mamma’s actions have taught me about unconditional love, empathy, kindness, compassion, tolerance and acceptance.
About a week ago, Mamma had suffered a traumatic cardiac event resulting in much heart damage. While in a hospital bed with multiple bodily attachments Mamma removed an oxygen lead from her nose. I became quite upset and agitated when I could not find the oxygen attachment.
Mamma looked up at me and just softly uttered 3 words “I love you”. That took the emotional edge off my agitation and put me in my place. Mamma’s reaction was of unconditional love. Nothing else mattered to her.
Mamma always did the “right thing”. She was a Mensch, even when the “right thing to do “conflicted with self interest.
On his passing my Father left an outstanding dental bill. Mamma had very little monies at that time but immediately called the dentist to assure him that he would be paid and a cheque was promptly sent out.
 Celebrating a Life
We do not celebrate a birth. We rejoice at the birth of a life – there are hopes, promises, but no fulfillments. It is fulfillments that we celebrate and that only comes at a passing of a life. It is the meaning of a life that is celebrated.
Jeffrey and I have much to celebrate in Mamma’s life. Mamma made a big difference in the lives of so many by making them feel loved and special in some way through her interactions. By making others feel loved and special, Mamma allowed them to feel and experience dignity of a pride and worth for some thing that they did or have.
This is so important. Mamma acknowledges by her actions toward others, the dignity of all individuals. The dignity of their humanness that comes from G-d. She looks to acknowledge specific behaviours and attributes in an individual that enable them to experience pride and worth. That’s Mamma!! That conduct is most worthy of celebration.
 Lessons about Life
Mamma passed at just under 105 years. At 103 years I asked her “Any lessons about life that you care to share with me.”
Mamma replied (1) “Be kind and pleasant to others yet expect nothing from them”
(2) “Accept people”. Be aware that they are like you and can be hurt easily.”
Mamma continues “It is a good way to feel to be kind and gentle. You don’t need any money to do this. I would not want to be anything else. I want people to feel good when they are with me.
If you are kind to others the kindness is returned. It’s a one-way street.”
Michael: “You mean a two way street?”
Mamma: “No it is a one-way street. We only stay on one side of the street- on the side of goodness and kindness.”
Michael: “We’re you always kind to people?”
Mamma: “Yes. That is how my parents were. I was very proud of my parents.”
Michael: “And I am very proud of You and Dad. Both of you made many sacrifices for your children.”
Mom pauses reflectively and says “good”, acknowledging my awareness of sacrifices.
 How to be remembered
On another occasion when Mom was a young 100 years, I asked her how she wanted to be remembered by her children.
Mamma: ”I want them to remember that they are loved and that I am very proud of my two sons.”
Of course, we were fully aware on a daily basis, over the years, of both the love and the pride.
We experienced love by how Mamma treated us. Always acted in ways that made us feel special and appreciated.
1) Acknowledgments. Mamma never hesitated to acknowledge behaviours that she was proud of and appreciated. “You do that very well.” Accompanied by a proud smile on Mom’s face. THAT MADE US FEEL SPECIAL AND LOVED!
2) Cooking and baking to please her family
As a way of lifting spirits, Mamma may ask, “anything I can make for you?” referring to comfort foods. THAT MADE US FEEL SPECIAL!
There was always an added ingredient in Mom’s cooking not found in conventional recipes. That hidden ingredient is TLC.
3) Display of empathy
I remember a 10 year old boy – me, at Camp Tamarack. Every day after lunch, mail
was given out to the campers. Your name was called and you walked up to receive a letter from home. Each and every day for two months, I received one to five letters from home. THAT MADE ME FEEL SPECIAL AND LOVED!
Mamma had displayed empathy for a ten year old boy away from home who may have experienced homesickness.
 Mamma’s family
Mamma’s family was always very important and meaningful to her. She loved and appreciated her two children, husband parents and siblings. In Mom’s words “G-d
has been very good to me.”
- a) She spoke of her husband as a kind loving person- a good husband and a good father. “Miss him and proud of him”.
- b) Mamma describes her childhood as a very rich childhood. She speaks of wonderful parents: Mother – “Always puts herself out for others.”
Father- A tailor who made clothes for Mom from leftover pieces of cloth in the shop. Wearing clothes made by her father, MADE MOM FEEL SPECIAL AND LOVED, saying that she was the best dressed girl in school.
Mamma speaks of wonderful siblings that enjoyed a family closeness.
Three brothers: Sam, Nat and Harold.
Two sisters: Betty and Mildred.
 Always good company
Jeffrey and I have known Mom during our childhood, adolescence, adulthood and now into old age.
Throughout, Mom has always been good company. It was a pleasure to be with her at any age. She always made others feel special and appreciated. I always looked forward with an excitement to sharing things with Mamma- food, purchases, readings, ideas, news events and concepts. I wanted her reaction and it was always satisfying.
Each of us can recall which individuals in our life made us feel special and appreciated by how we were treated.
Individuals that make us feel special and appreciated are the individuals we remember most fondly. We say that such individuals ARE special. But what we really mean is that these individuals made us feel special by how they treated us.
She enjoyed people. Enjoyed life and wanted others to feel good about themselves and about life.
Whenever we were out in public – Costco, park, doctor’s office. There was Mom – in a wheelchair, macular degeneration (blind), hard of hearing. With a full sense of joy and a zest for life, Mamma greeted everyone – with friendly waves, a warm smile, and kind comments to make them feel good.
-“You’re so thoughtful and considerate.”
-“You’re so pretty”
-“ You’ve got such a lovely smile”
-“I can tell that you’re a nice person”
-“You have such a beautiful child”
-“You look so healthy”
-“Are you okay”
 Essence of Judaism
Essence of Judaism is primarily grounded not in beliefs but is grounded in behaviour/how we treat others.
To treat others as you prefer to be treated is the essence of Judaism.
That’s Mamma! Mamma makes a DIFFERENCE by treating others in ways that make them feel special and appreciated. This allows them to feel and experience dignity. Dignity of pride and worth for some thing. These are mitzvahs that I so often witnessed and for which that Jeffrey and I felt much pride and yet much humility. I sometimes imagine that Mamma was a vessel for G-d’s Grace.
 An inspiration
Jeffrey and I are very thankful and appreciative to have had Mamma with us for so many years.
It has been a blessing – a gift from G-d. Our lives have been enriched immensely because of Mamma. We are inspired to do our best to honour and celebrate Mamma’s conduct, her life and memory in ways that make her proud.
Thank you G-d. G-d bless you Mamma.
Your children – Michael and Jeffrey.
 Repeating earlier comments – plus
We do not celebrate a birth. There are only hopes and promises but lack fulfillments. It is fulfillments that we celebrate and that only comes from a passing of a life.
Jeffrey and I are very proud of how this beautiful special lady conducted her life. It was a mission focused on others’ well-being and less so on an absorption of self/me’s.
This was one of Mamma’s secrets to longevity – a lesser preoccupation with self – “what I am” (fixed dispositional essence) / “who I am” (identity), allowing for a peace of mind and a happiness. A lesser preoccupation with self correlates with more happiness and more peace of mind.
Thank you for participating in this celebration. G-d Bless!
The family will be accepting Shiva visitors at 197 Strathearn Rd., Toronto. Shiva concludes Wednesday morning, August 18th.