Eulogy for My Mother

Delivered at Stanetsky’s Funeral Home, Canton, MA, January 2, 2014.

I sat down to do the impossible, to try to put into a few words what my mother means to me, my family, and to all of us here. And I came up with fifteen hundred words about her commitment to family, her joy at being part of so many communities, and her fierce and fearless embrace of life with all it has to offer. But when I looked at what I wrote, it just felt so generic. Where was the mom who dressed up as Sonny Bono while I dressed up as Cher to perform “I’ve Got You Babe” at a USY lip sync competition? Or the mom who, into my thirties, would read menus out loud to me to make sure there were things I could eat at whatever restaurant we were at? Where was the mom who, after ten years devoting all of her free time to USY dropped everything and missed what would have been her final Spring Convention so she could sleep on my cousin Karen’s couch and help her family when Chad was born? Where was the mom who faced down the school board so my high school graduation wouldn’t fall on Shabbat, or the mom who didn’t leave my side for four weeks when I was hospitalized at age ten with an enigmatic GI disease, never letting me know for a minute how terrified she was?  Continue reading

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It’s Not Where You Start: I’ve Been to a Marvelous Party

Originally posted on It’s Not Where You Start.

(Apparently it’s Noel Coward week on this blog. It’s taken all my effort to avoid the obligatory “Why Do the Wrong People Travel” post, if only because that’s too easy.)

It turns out that an extended weekend in Vegas may have been exactly what I needed, and I am grateful to my brother for making it happen.

I had reason to be nervous, as I mentioned earlier in the week. My brother and I have a mostly positive relationship these days, but that wasn’t always the case. When we have fought in the last few years, it’s generally been when our parents are around. On the other hand, we tend to do best when we visit on his turf. There’s no question that this weekend, while physically at Planet Hollywood, was spiritually all his turf. It didn’t hurt that I spent time with my parents, and time with my brother, but little time with all four of us together.

About sixty guests descended on Vegas for the affair — aunts, uncles cousins; my brother’s friends from high school and college; colleagues past and present from across the entertainment industry; and more than a few of his clients, a mix of actors you’d recognize as “oh, that guy” and some younger talent who, if you have kids of Nickelodian age, you’d be clamoring to get your picture taken with.
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Livejournal: My Life Story

Originally published on my long-defunct Livejournal. A friend had put out a call on her blog for others to share their life stories. Here’s my response.

My great-grandparents on all four sides, none of whom I’ve ever met, all came from the same area of the world that at times has been Poland, Latvia, or Lithuania. That may not be right, I’m not really sure where Latvia is. Also, my maternal grandfather (who liked to be called Papa Harold, so I will never likely call him that again) occasionally claimed that his ancestry was from Chelm, but I could never tell if he was serious. (In terms of derogatory jokes, Chelm:Poland::Poland:America; that is, Polish people tell jokes about how stupid the folks in Chelm are.) At any rate, I come from hearty Eastern European Jewish stock.

At least two sets of my great-grandparents divorced and remarried, which is interesting not only because it provided my Grandma Ida with a good supply of stories about her gambler father and no-good step-father, but also because growing up, my own nuclear family was one of the only families I knew with both parents still married to their original spouse.  Continue reading