I must have been 5 or 6 years old and I remember running as fast as I could outside my bubbie and zeida’s house. My mom was there to pick me up and I wanted to stay. Bubbie was making Shabbos dinner and my zeida was watching the six o’clock news. I hated leaving…ever having to say good-bye. It was a second home to all of us. It always smelled like schnitzel and chicken soup. My bubbie was our second mommy. She was all of our strength.
She use to work like a dog and never (figinsach) for herself. She was always concerned about other people first. My mom and aunt did not grow up with much monetarily —once my mom told me that when she was little Bubbie use to feed the family dinner and she never took a plate for herself—just a little bread. When her daughter’s would ask why she wasn’t hungry—her response—although untrue-- was “because I already ate.” This is such a true example of how her needs were never at the forefront—it was always about the family. The kinda. Besides her own children, she always made sure that all of the grandkids were taken care of—whether it was putting us through college and graduate schools. Nothing was too much for her.
What I learned from my Bubbie’s death was that character is essential: What she was, was how she died. A fighter. Not for herself but for others.
She fought hard the last three weeks not for herself but to give her sisters a chance to say good-bye and so that she could tell them she loved them. She waited for her daughter Sheila to come down so that she could tell her what a good daughter she was. She waited for her sister Hannah to fly down and hold her hand and tell her she loved her. We were all so lucky to have her.
During these last three weeks, we never left her. She always had us by her every minute of every day through her journey. She deserved that. She talked to us as much as she was able to. We wouldn’t leave her—we needed to feel her, smell her and talk to her--- as much as she needed us there to help her on this journey.
Bubbie you gave us a gift the day you died. Before you left us to see zeida –it took all of your strength but you opened your eyes for the first time in two days and looked for a long time at your grandchildren and your great grandchildren and you gave us the gift to look into your eyes one last time. Bubbie, I will never forget your last words to each of us. You managed to say you loved us when it took all the effort in the world to even take a breath. When my brother told you it was OK to go you managed to say thank you. You were so sad to leave us at first. Your body was already too weak to cry but we felt your tears and sadness as you looked at all of us and felt us all around you. You knew you were going…. it was enough. You looked at each one of us, eyes wide open after days of not being able to open your eyes. You fought so hard not to leave us. You kept saying the kinda, the kinda. Bubbie-the kinda will be ok- I promise you. You made us strong.
Your daughter did the most unselfish and hardest thing a child should ever have to do…she walked you to g-d. She knew you were scared….she stopped crying….and calmly and quietly took your hand…. looked into your eyes….and Nancy told you that she was walking with you side by side, can you feel me mommy, she said, I am right here, it is OK Mommy, its Shaboss you need to make chicken soup for daddy, take the candlestick mommy-its ok, make Shabbos dinner for your brother Benuyamin and for all the kinda mommy. Bubbie – A Friday will never pass without me benching lecht and wishing you a good shabbas. But it is now time for you to look after yourself, be with Zeida and your mama and tata and all the kinda. Za gizint Bubbie and I promise that every Shabbos I will look up into the sky and see the three stars that you waited to appear before leaving us….I love you Bubbie. You are my gansen laben.
Love you bubs.