Tuesday, July 5, 2016

In New York, but not the trip I expected

When someone dies, even if they were sick for a long time and you knew the end was near, it is always a shock when you get that news.

I got that shock last Wednesday, June 29th.
My dear mother of blessed memory passed away. It was quiet, five in the morning, she was in my father's arms, she was not in pain, there was no drama, her heart simply stopped working. She slipped away quietly, my father seeing the instant that it happened.

Her heart was always weak, from her childhood. In adulthood, she had a heart attack, open heart surgery, lung cancer, a three month coma from sepsis, bedridden for the last four years, and her body finally let go. Over the past few weeks she was getting weaker and weaker. She was in congestive heart failure. I did know that, I just didn't think that it would happen before we got there. She passed away four days before my family's planned trip to New York to see her. I flew out the next day, and my family came at the scheduled time, Sunday evening. Unfortunately they missed her funeral.

I am sitting shiva at the house I grew up in, with my two brothers and my dear father. It's very hard.

I would like to share the eulogy I delivered at her funeral.
Her casket was right behind me as I spoke, my heart was broken. So, so many people came to her funeral from all over the country, it was really a tremendous testimony to who she was and how strong her influence was. The funeral home had standing room only, and there wasn't a dry eye.

She was intelligent, metropolitan, wise, independent, spicy, beautiful, modest and made a consistent, permanent home for all her children and her husband. So permanent, in fact, that she died in her home, and my father and brothers and I are sitting shiva for her in that very home.

My father, brothers and I gave eulogies. Each one of us touched on her character from our unique perspectives, it was really tremendous.

Here is my eulogy. Farewell, and thank you, 
Theda Kashin, Tova Bat Itzchak v'Sheindl.
May Hashem grant you eternal rest.


A daughter being born to a mother after two boys is a game changer. I know that from personal experience, having had my own two boys and then a girl.

A daughter and her mother have a relationship quite unlike that which she has with her boys. I learned that pretty early on in my own mothering years as well, and began to understand my mother on a new level, and appreciate her for all she was able to do to nourish our relationship.

It was not a simple relationship by any means; the whole family can attest to that.

In my younger years, she hand-sewed me dresses and haloween costumes (one famous clown costume is with me in Israel and comes out on Purim). She tried to teach me how to sew, but I didn't have the patience. Though, since I have become a mother, even her sewing talents must have rubbed off somewhat on me, because I mend and hem my kids clothing just like she used to, although by hand. I still can't operate a sewing machine. Sorry Mom.

In my older years, mom was entirely devoted to my education as a budding orchestra musician. There may have been strife involving many other aspects of our life together, but when it came to my music lessons, she was the most amazing support anyone could ever dream of.

She drove me everywhere and anywhere for my musical education and enrichment. When I got accepted into the Juilliard pre-college program, she drove me into Manhattan every Saturday, dedicatedly leaving the house at 6am, for me to get there for a 7:30 rehearsal. I spent every Saturday in Juilliard, and, so, then, my mom did, too.

She'd sometimes go around Manhattan when I was in classes, but more usually she would hang out in the lounge area and knit. She was knitting me a sweater. Not only was she giving up her whole Saturday for me to learn music, but she would be giving to me even as she waited all day in the lounge. That sweater, which I affectionately call my "Juilliard sweater" has been in every closet of every apartment I ever lived in, including where I live now in Be'er Sheva, Israel. Yes, Be'er Sheva *is* in the middle of a desert. But it can get cold there, and some of those rainy winter nights I slip on that beautiful wool high neck sweater, and feel warmly enveloped in my mother's love and devotion to me.

She supported every audition I took, and drove me all over the map to get me to them.

She wasn't a professional musician herself, but with classical music playing from her kitchen radio literally all day in the house, it is a testimony to her endowing us with a love of music, that all three of her kids became musicians.

In my own parenthood, I have acquired a much deeper understanding of who she is... was, and what she had to conquer as the obstacles in her life in order to give us what she was committed to: a home with a mother constantly present, a different warm meal on the table every night, together with dad when he came home from work.This was entirely different than how she herself grew up, she created, and committed herself to a whole new reality, basically out of nothing.

When she fell ill four years ago, we thought we'd lose her. She has a very strong inner power, even when her body is failing, she can summon that power to keep her alive. I believe I inherited that inner power from her. I also have been in medical situations when it wasn't clear I'd make it out alive, and it was pure inner strength that keep me going. Even when our bodies gave out on us, our spirits, mom and me, that spirit never gave up.

Mom's body in the end did give up at the age of 82. I believe she wanted to live a little longer. She knew my family and children (three of whom she hadn't seen in 2 + 1/2 years) were just about to arrive in New York. But her body was completely out of energy. Her heart just stopped working. But her spirit is still with us very strongly, as I know you are understanding here.

Mom, thank you for teaching me about the power of "Tikun", a Jewish concept referring to repairing the mistakes of the former generations. You preformed this tikun quite successfully with bringing us up in ways much better than how you had it. You taught me that, and in honor and deference to you, mom, I continue repairing, I continue honoring the concept of "tikun" while I raise my own children.

I only wish you were still here with us to witness it, and enjoy them with me. My children, husband and I all miss you terribly. You left your mark of courage on all of us, even though you'd say quite the opposite of yourself.

I miss you, and will continue to miss you, and will always honor your memory.
Thank you for giving so much of your life and soul's energy to me.
We were truly blessed to have each other. 
...but what I'd do to climb into bed with you for snuggles and giggles just one more time....


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. המקום ינחם אתכם בתוך שאר אבילי ציון וירושלים.No other words. Love, Bracha

  3. Absolutely gorgeous. May her memory always be a comfort and a blessing.

  4. What a beautiful eulogy, Sarah. Blessings to you and your family.

  5. May you know no further sorrow, and always remember your mother with joy.

  6. You inspire me. Hamakom yinachem etchem.

  7. Beautiful tribute to your mom.

  8. Beautiful writing. Memories will live forever.

  9. Just beautiful! You were each so lucky to have the other... May she rest peacefully!

  10. So beautiful sarah. The way you live your life honors her so well. Sending love

  11. My condolences. Such a lovely eulogy.

  12. Beautiful eulogy, Sarah. You are in my thoughts.

  13. You are an inspiration!
    Big hugs,

  14. may hashem comfort you and your family amongst

    the mourners of jerusalem. may you only have simchas.

  15. Very moving eulogy, Sarah. We love you.

  16. Very moving eulogy, Sarah. We love you.