We are a people in whom the past endures,Temple Shaaray Tefila, the 10 Commandments were taught by 10 different teachers, each of whom had 10 minutes to make a presentation about one of the commandments. Cantor Todd Kipnis, in teaching about the fourth commandment – Honor thy father and mother – shared an essay his mother wrote about honoring her mother at a time in their lives when their roles largely were reversed. The daughter became the mother; the mother became the daughter.
in whom the present in inconceivable without moments gone by.
The Exodus lasted a moment, a moment enduring forever.
What happened once upon a time happens all the time.
-- Mishkan T’filah
His mother’s essay provoked in me a flood of tears, not only because of what she wrote and how she wrote it, but also because of the memories it evoked of how our family honored my mother eight years ago on this exact date, May 19, 2010.
It was on that date that I wrote two entries on my mother’s CaringBridge site. First, this one:
As many of you already know, the last few weeks have been difficult for my mother. During this last week in particular, her condition has deteriorated significantly, and she has, despite medication, been in considerable pain. Yesterday, acting upon recommendations from both her oncologist and her long-time internist, my father, my sister, and I agreed that it is now time to follow her wishes and make arrangements for her to enter a hospice facility. Accordingly, we met at length with a hospice nurse, and within the next few days, we expect that my mom will be moved to Haven Hospice at JFK Hospital in Edison (right across the street from her beloved Temple Emanu-El). In the meantime, she is resting comfortably in the hospital, and we, too, are comfortable knowing that we are abiding by my mother’s wishes.Later that same day, having accompanied her (thanks to two kind, young women paramedics) on the ride from the hospital in New Brunswick to the hospice facility in Edison, I wrote this penultimate journal entry:
Many of you know, too, that the Festival of Shavuot, which began last night, is my mom’s favorite Jewish holiday. As Rabbi Bravo wrote to a few of her own colleagues yesterday, “Diana would have wanted us to celebrate this holiday, just as she loved Torah and let it be her guide through life. Ironically, she went into the hospital on Pesach, and here we are on Shavuot. Her family and I decided that just as she lived her life by the Jewish calendar, so is she planning her end of days in a similar way.”
This afternoon my mother was transferred from Robert Wood Johnson to the hospice facility at JFK Hospital in Edison. When we left her, she was (as she has been for the last few days) unresponsive, but resting comfortably and in no pain. The speed of her deterioration on all fronts during the last several days has been notable and somewhat startling, even to a longtime family friend who has been together with us frequently during the last seven weeks. Having said that, we have reassessed our earlier thoughts regarding visitors, and would prefer that only family, clergy, and close friends visit. We want your memories of my mother to be filled with laughter, happy times, and much goodness. We are, of course, grateful for your outpouring of care and love on this site and invite you to continue to share your thoughts with us.I know that we honored my mother well on that day. I like to think, too, that excepting for a few teenage temper tantrums, I honored her well throughout all her days, and that for the rest of my own days, I will continue to honor her memory and her well-lived life.