About My Mom


My mom died this morning. She was frail, but there was no warning this was imminent.

My mom grew up in Brooklyn, one of two girls. She was the daughter of Polish immigrants who wanted to taste freedom.

She met my dad at a party during World War II. They married after the war ended.

They were together over 65 years. All that time and still passionate about each other.

A terrible piece has been ripped from my father today.

I remember her sending me to school with cream cheese and olive sandwiches, while I went through that phase. I remember pizza on English muffins and cakes, somehow baked in a kitchen the size of your elbow. I remember chicken basted with so much fat and butter it might be illegal. While she cooked, she’d let me snack on the skin.

My mom was vivacious. By the dictionary definition, attractively lively and animated, she was a triple threat. My mom was great to have at a party.

She sewed. She knitted. She kept my sister and me from killing each other.

She went to work when I was in my teens. First at the Queens College Bookstore, then the Colden Library. She liked being associated with Queens College. Later she would work in the library at University of Bridgeport. Another good fit.

This was the time my parents traveled. They saw Europe, Israel and China. In retrospect, I wish they’d seized more of those moments. The past few years travel was no longer an option.

my folksMy dad worked for a company in Stamford. He commuted from Flushing every day. When they moved his office to Trumbull, my folks moved to Connecticut… to Hamden where we’d later move.

We told my folks Helaine was pregnant on the actual day they moved. In that pre-cell era we had trouble reaching them until after dark.

Stef grew up with her grandparents. She had a relationship unlike most kids. Her grandparents acted younger than their age. They were fun companions, especially during summers at their condo’s pool.

After they both retired my folks moved to Florida. They loved it. Helaine and I often refer to it as life extension.

harold-betty-vintageAge was not kind to my mom. She fell, shattered bones and never really recovered. She became scared to walk. She was petrified she’d fall again.

My mom drew more and more inward until she would speak in one or two word sentences. She lost her curiosity. She lost her warmth. That was sad.

I remember saying, “I love you,” at the end of one call and hearing silence.

Amazingly, she was able to bounce back a little. Though she tired quickly, she could start a good conversation. If you tried really hard you could even get her to laugh again. I love yous were once again exchanged.

But it was all a facade. Thirty seconds in and she was physically and mentally spent.

We spoke yesterday. She thanked me for calling, as if I was doing her a favor. I made a mental note to stop asking her what’s new.

Did she remember how I used to call every night while driving home from work? She smiled. I’m sure I heard her smile over the phone.

I told her I wanted to have those conversations again. She knows.

Tonight, our family is very lucky. There are no loose ends with my mom. No questions of where she stood. She knew we all loved her very much–two children and spouses, four grandchildren, three great grandchildren and my dad.

We have mourned my mom’s deterioration these past years. Her life was often joyless and in pain. Her suffering has ended. For that we are grateful.

45 thoughts on “About My Mom”

  1. My heart goes out to you and your family. I hope you and your dad can peace in the fact that you had a wonderful life with a wonderful lady. Sadly, many people never have that. So, while you feel such sadness now, remember the years of love and happiness that she gave you…and that you all gave her.

  2. A beautifully written, heartfelt tribute to your mom. Our sincere condolences to you and the entire family. I hope your dad will be OK.

  3. Hi Geoff,

    Again, my deepest condolences.

    The video was absolutely beautiful. The love and pure joy they felt for each other
    was so evident.

    Please cherish the memories.


  4. Geoff I am so sorry for you and your entire family this is a very sad and difficult time for all of you. I have lost both my parents my mom 28 years ago lived more than half my life without her my dad just a few months short of 2 years. There are no words that can help at this time I know but just hang on to the wonderful memories you posted and others know she is in good hands and know you all will be ok as you all have each other to lean on. Take special care of your dad as he will be the one who feels this lost the most the love of his life his partner is gone he needs you all more than ever right now and more so in the weeks and months to follow. Sending you all hugs of comfort and prayers to sustain you now. ๐Ÿ™ <3

  5. Geoff I am sorry for your lost. That was beautiful written piece. You have so much love for your family. I will be keeping you and your family in my prayers. And remember your mom will always be with you , in your heart and in all the beautiful memories Please keep sharing those memories. We love hearing them.

  6. Geoff – I am so very sorry to hear of the loss of your mother. You wrote a beautiful tribute to her and the video is absolutely wonderful. I just lost my mother the end of July – grieving is a process I guess. You will always miss her but she is still in your heart and always will be. My sympathies extend to Helaine, Steph, your Dad and the rest of your Mother’s family and friends.

  7. My deepest sympathies to you and your family. Your love for your Mom shined through each time you mentioned her in your posts. So sorry for your loss.

  8. Dear Geoff,
    Your parents were so amazing. A true love story. So glad you had the many happy years and memories. May the sadness in your heart be replaced with unending joy each time you think of your Mom.. Gods blessings upon you and your wonderful family. Much love, Evi

  9. My prayers and thoughts are with you during this difficult time. My mom passed rather suddenly 5 days after Thanksgiving last year. She was frail, but still as active as she could be. Like you, I always called my mom when I left work ~ she kept me company on my drive home. I always found myself smiling when we talked, I know she was smiling too, I could hear it in her voice. After we lost my dad 15 years ago, so I knew I was keeping her company too. Your dad will never replace the piece of his heart that belongs to your mom, but the family can help fill some of the emptiness he feels. So many people use the excuse that they are too busy, to fit in a phone call or a visit. I have told everyone I know the same thing: pick up the phone or make that visit because it means the world to the parent you still have. Keeping family traditions are an important part of celebrating her memory.

  10. So sorry for your loss , it’s so painful to lose your parents after spending so much time with them. My sincere condolences, what a lovely, memorable ,tribute to your Mom. ( Our kids went to west woods together, had same teachers) Such a sad day for your family, but what fantastic memories you have!!!!

  11. Geoff,
    I am so sorry to hear of your loss of your Mom. I know from your stories that she was a special woman and you had a special relationship with her. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

  12. Hi Geoff,

    I am so sorry and saddened by the passing of your Mom. She was a terrific lady and will certainly be missed. Please send my regards to Dad, Trudi and the rest of your family.


  13. Geoff, what a great video to have of your mom and dad…watching this makes me think of my own parents…same generation. They also went on a long honeymoon, eventually moving to CA for a bit. Wish I had one to look back on of both of them. I am so sorry for the loss of your mom. My sympathies to you and your whole family. I know she is no longer suffering but it still is hard on all of you…especially your dad. Wishing you all the best.

  14. Your love and respect for your mom shines like a beacon. She will live with you always. Sincere condolences for your loss.

  15. Dear Geoff, Our deepest condolences on the loss of your beloved mother. My mom worked with her at UB. I met Betty several times. She was a lovely lady. May your memories bring you peace. She will always live on in your heart. Our prayers are for you and your family.

  16. Geoff,

    I’m so sorry to read of your loss. My sincere condolences to you and your family. I hope your mom has her “vivacious” back. ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. Geoff, my deepest condolences to you and your family. One thing to hold close it that knowledge of “no regrets”. That your loved one passed on knowing they were loved. I’m glad your mom knew. <3

  18. So sorry to hear it Geoff. I lost my mom in ’08 so I know what it’s like. But at least she’s at peace and out of pain now.
    As I said at my mom’s funeral; as long as there are people to remember, no one is truely ‘gone’.
    And there’s this line from a Bruce Springsteen song (one that’ll be played at MY funeral someday); “I’ll meet you further on up the road’. We’ll all meet again further on up the road. I like that sentiment. Hope you do too.

  19. Geoff, to you and your family, we are so very sorry and hope wonderful memories like those in your fabulous video help you through this time! We also hope all these wonderful words everyone is writing, also helps in some way! What a terrific woman your mom was! Lucky you, your dad, and your family! Please mention our condolences to everyone!
    With deepest sympathy,
    Jan and Mark Gould

  20. It is with heartfelt sadness for you, your family, and your dad I send you my condolences.

    I recently lost my parents–dad 3 years ago and mom in March–it is not easy, but the wonderful memories will keep you all going. I pray you all find the strength to carry on until you meet again. She is at peace and out of pain; for that you have to be grateful.

  21. Geoff – Please accept my sincere condolences on the passing of your mom. I’m sure you have many happy memories.

    I lost both my parents, and last year I lost my husband. I know they are looking after us. May God be with you and your family.

    Helen (from East Haven)

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