Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Grandma's Eulogies

As we get ready to take a break for Shabbat - I share with you six of the eulogies given at Grandma Ada's Funeral....**

Thank you all for your supportive, kind and caring words and stories about Grandma Ada.
As an expression of sympathy, memorial contributions may be sent to the Jewish Coalition Against Domestic Abuse (www.jcada.org)

Grandma choreographed her own funeral. Giving each of us something to say and/or sing...and offering anyone the opportunity to speak...if others wanted to listen.

**after Shabbat I will add the additional parts of the "program" - her words, not ours!

Ada Young Eulogy by, Elissa

Ada Young Eulogy by, Jason

Ada Young Eulogy by, Jacob

Ada Young Eulogy by, Ellie

Ada Young Eulogy by, Eric

Ada Young Eulogy by, Douglas

Ada Young - Letter to Mom, by Dona



Grandma, Love your Lissy Pooh



Why is this so hard to write? I think because I don’t want to…because I never thought I would have to. G was supposed to be here forever…we thought she would be here forever. Everything I do traces back to Grandma. Starting with my morning coffee. You see, when we lived with Grandma and Grandpa – she and I would spend the morning together getting ready. She would put a piece of bread in the toaster oven with a slice of muenster cheese… and pour us each a cup of coffee – me with this much coffee and this much milk – her with this much coffee and this much milk…and each with two saccharine. I pretty much still drink my coffee the same way.

We would spend time waiting for my mom to get home from work…and as each car passed by in front of 10205 63rd Road that was not my mommy’s car – and there were many cars passing by 10205 63rd Road – she would say, “that’s not mommy’s car…” until it was.

We could cuddle in bed and talk for hours – but once we got up the bed had to be made…with hospital corners and then you couldn’t mess with it, the pillows were on just so. Nothing was off limits in Grandma’s house…except touching the mirror – that was a nu nu nu. Or the walls for that matter…they would leave marks.

Everything was a learning experience, a game and a treat – no matter what it was. I remember a time that we were in Wallingford. She took Joshy, Dena and I on a walk, and as we walked she was trying to teach Josh and Dena their address – or maybe just try to remember it for herself so we didn’t get lost – and as we walked she sang: “210 Plushmill Road, Wallingford Pennsylvania, I don’t know the zip code…” What child knows their Aunt and Uncle’s address off the top of their heads? I did…and because of the story, so do my children!

Grandma was one of the most empathetic people I know. She felt everything we felt. When we were happy, she was thrilled and had the best clap – lifting her head up and saying OH MY GOD with a squeal. And when we were sad, she would say: “don’t cry, my shainkin – you’re going to make me cry,” and she did.

Grandma Ada knew no stranger. She would start a conversation while in line with the person next to her or with someone walking on the boardwalk. I know, children – I do the same thing, but I come by it honestly. Grandpa Jay and she traveled the world together – and made amazing connections and friendships along the way. They traveled on group bus trips and came home with pen-pals and photos of people of all ages – 30 years younger, and 30 years older – and kept in touch in a time before the internet or Facebook made it easy. They would go on cruises, and loved getting seated with other people – people they would become fast friends with. When I was a bit older I asked them why, and they said it made it more fun to meet interesting people.

But it wasn’t just the random people on trips. What I think we each knew, but didn’t get until the past 48 hours, is how much each and every one of our friends thought of G as their Mom/Grandma. The outpouring from people near and far has been tremendous. They are sharing stories about their relationship with G – ones where she made them feel as though they were her family.

Family. Our family. I didn’t get that we were so different. I just assumed all were like us. Family was most important. Grandma’s seemed to breathe in our CO2 as we breathed in her love as our oxygen. She wanted her family close – physically close, yes, but more importantly emotionally. No one should sleep at a hotel; we all sleep together in the house. There is enough room on the floor and in beds; it isn’t a problem. I used to think it was about money – not to spend the money on a hotel –but you see, I think she knew – by having us “live” together for that short time, we learned more about each other as individuals and as a family. Our idiosyncrasies, our weaknesses and our strengths…and how we are better together than as individuals. It is no coincidence that the 9 of us fight like siblings. We were raised as siblings, not cousins. Each of our parents could reprimand us or praise us like our parents, for better or worse. In the long run – it has proven for the better.

But Grandma and Grandpa created the opportunities for these spaces to exist. Whether it was the trips to the Raleigh hotel in the Catskills/South Fallsburg, Israel, Florida or our family cruises – they made it possible for us to be together and live together, even for a short time, like siblings.

Grandma never failed to tell us how she felt about us, our decisions, our choices…but she never failed to tell us how much she loved us. And that we were her favorite (Shhh, don’t tell anyone!). We were each her favorite.

And when she became a Great Grandma, she finally got the name she had always wanted: Bubbie. See, G was blessed with good genes. Both of her parents lived into their nineties, and Elan, Sheri, Ron, Josh, Dena, Lauren, Evan, Doug, and I were all fortunate enough to have had our great-grandma still living when we were born. We called her Bubbie because that is what our parents did. So to us, G was Grandma Ada until 2001. Jacob, followed by Lior, Liad, Yael, Daniele, Adina, Yuval, Aiden, Eden, Amit, Ariel, Dalia and Jonah – that is 13 if you lost count – called her Bubbie…and all loved their Bubbie dearly.

Love: love is something she was generous with – as she was with everything. We have been so blessed to have had her with us, so close – whether in physical distance or through technology at the push of a button.

Her children, my mom Dona and dad Eric, Uncle Russel and Aunt Judy, and Aunt Marcia, responded to her every need and wish – she even sometimes let them think that their say mattered in the decision. But they learned from the best. Grandma taught her children by example…and we will follow in their footsteps.

But as you couldn’t sway her to do anything she didn’t want to – well, maybe I could, but the rest of you couldn’t – she decided, on what would have been on Grandpa Jay’s 95th birthday, to join the love of her life in olam ha-bah.

None of us really knows what we are going to do without her. I think many us of feel we lost our best friend. I know I did. Who are we going to pick up the phone to tell what exciting news we have? Who are we going to call to complain about someone in the family? Who are we going to pick up the phone to cry with? The answer is each other. That is how she planned it. We are to call each other. Our matriarch helped us build these relationships for the past 70+ years – and it is our job to fulfill her wishes and allow her legacy to be passed on through us.


Grandma Ada, Love Jason

My name is Jason Schwartz. I’m married to Ada’s granddaughter Elissa, and the proud father of four of Ada’s thirteen great-grandchildren.

I have also earned a reputation as the family fanatic, so not to disappoint, I will share some words of Torah that truly speak to the way Grandma Ada lived her life. From

Pirkei Avot:
10. [Rabbi Yochanan] said to them: Go and see which is the best trait for a person to acquire. Said Rabbi Eliezer: A good eye. Said Rabbi Joshua: A good friend. Said Rabbi Yossei: A good neighbor. Said Rabbi Shimon: To see what is born [out of ones actions]. Said Rabbi Elazar: A good heart. Said He to them: I prefer the words of Elazar ben Arach to yours, for his words include all of yours.
I’m going to talk about Grandma Ada’s heart.

I will always remember the first time I met Grandma Ada. Lis and I weren’t even officially dating yet, but I went with her to Plainview to join her family for some holiday or other. I probably said something like “hello, I’m Jason,” and she replied, “I’m Grandma Ada.” And just like that - she was my grandma, whether I liked it or not. Now I do remember putting up some resistance to this appellation at first - after all, what would my own grandmother think if I went around calling other women “grandma?”

What I didn’t know then is that Ada Young’s family isn’t like other families. You don’t marry into this family and then remain an outsider, spending years trying to earn a place. Once you’re in, you’re in all the way. Like it or not. So, while Grandma Ada may not have always had the most open mind, she had the most open heart of anyone I’ve ever known. Lots of room in there for everyone - even our two big fluffy dogs, who she was always happy to have come and stay with her when we visited. So despite that initial reluctance I might have had when first meeting her, I’m proud to call Ada my grandma. Ada’s children are my mom and my aunt and my uncle. Her grandchildren are my brother, my sister and my cousins.

Grandma Ada was really good sport. I used to tease her mercilessly, which I thought was only fair, because she used to beat the pants off me at Rummikub, with equal savagery. I’m afraid I’ve gotten my kids on board too, as we have enjoyed needling Grandma Ada over the years about the many times she discovered, for the first time, that Uncle Russ is allergic to apples, or that charoset can be purchased in a jar. Or about all of the variations she came up with for her favorite part of the Passover seder - say it with me now - “two are the tablets that Moshe brought!”

Grandma Ada was known for many things: Love and affection for family and friends, devotion to her husband, fantastic cooking and baking, stubbornness, storytelling, love of travel, a sweet tooth, Yiddish, a little off-color language, Jewish values, and... opinions. No, you did not have to work hard to pry an opinion out of Grandma Ada. Whatever she thought of what you were doing, she felt it was important to tell you. Now granted, it was sometimes a challenge helping her to understand that telling loved ones exactly what you think of their choices and their behavior may not be the best way to inspire change. But you can be sure that whatever the criticism, whatever the praise, it came from a place of love, fierce pride, and her desire to see each and every one of her family members -- all of us family members -- succeed, be happy, and be menschen - decent people.

What I will remember most about Grandma Ada is her zest for life. She cried easily, and laughed even more easily. No matter what obstacles nature and age put in her path, she always found a way to live life to the fullest, and share it with the people who mattered most. From joining the band and playing the bongos at Beth’s wedding, to playing the slot machines every chance she got, to coming on a cruise with 27 family members at the age of 89.5, to always having some fruit jells and marshmallow twists in the freezer, to dancing with her family at the end of two Passover seders less than two months ago.

We are so lucky to have had Grandma Ada in our lives. What our great sages have tried to teach us in words, she demonstrated in her deeds, each and every day she lived her life: The best trait for a person to acquire is a good heart. Zichronah Li-vrachah - may her memory be for a blessing, always.

Bubbie, Love Jacob

Bubbie,

For 92 years you filled the world with your endless kindness and light. Throughout my life have been inspired by you. You weren't just my great-grandmother - you juggled quite a few roles.

Firstly, you were the Queen. Your strong opinions were expressed with confidence and pride. If you wanted to share what you were thinking you let everyone know. If you wanted to do something then you were going to do it. I aspire to exhibit the strength and leadership that you have shown time and time again. G, our family was royalty with you on the throne.

Secondly, you were a teacher. You taught me how to play countless board games so we could spend our time together on holiday afternoons. You taught me that I should be proud of my religion and my family. You taught me that the secret to longevity is a diet consisting of mostly peanut m&ms and Coca Cola. You taught me that nothing is more precious than family. Your teachings have shaped my very identity and your loving words and selfless actions have shaped the individual I am today.

Most importantly, you were family. Together we created countless memories, from having early morning breakfasts with me on holidays to mercilessly annihilating me in Rummikub - from your beautiful renditions of Passover tunes to your 90th birthday cruise.

Your family was much bigger than your 3 children, 9 grandchildren, and 13 great grandchildren. You had a special gift for making people feel loved and accepted, and in that way you extended your family. Everyone who met you was drawn in by your warmth and humor.

Even in your later years in assisted living you were able to bring joy to so many. You quickly became the most popular resident in the place. Your energy was so magnetic that your aides would come to visit you on their free time. The boundless joy experienced by all in your presence was matched only by your capacity to love. You touched the hearts of so many people in so many ways. Your legacy lives on in our memories like an eternal flame.

Today I buried you Bubbie, but I will never forget you until the day I am buried myself.

Bubs, Love Ellie

My great-grandmother had many names. Ada, Bubbie, Grandma, G , mom. But to me she was always Bubbie.

She was a matriarch, in every sense of the word. She had 3 children, 9 grandchildren, and 13 great grandchildren. And she loved each and every single one of them with all her heart.

My Zayde, the love of her life, passed away when I was just 6 years old, and I didn't know how to comfort my Bubbie at that age. So I said what my six-year-old brain could think of: "Look on the bright side..."

--Oh, it gets worse—

"At least you get to sleep alone in your big bed." I don't know what I was thinking then, but all I can think now is that, Bubbie, you will never have to sleep alone again.

I hope you and Zeiddie are together now, wherever you are.

Rest In Peace. I love you up to the sky and down to the bottom of the ocean, Bubs!

Mom, Love Eric (Your Favorite Son-in-Law)

When I met my beautiful wife Dona, it was love at first sight.  For me.  Not so much for her.  In fact, it took a lot of energy to finally convince her to marry me.  And through it all, my staunchest ally and greatest supporter was my mother-in-law to be, Ada Young.  She had my back.  Sorry Dona, I guess you have Mom to blame.

And so we became a family.  Ada and Jay lived in Forest Hills, and when we moved to Plainview, it was an easy drive for them to come visit, which they did very often, and we were very close.  I can still picture Jay sitting in our rocking chair, with the newspaper and the little nub of a pencil he always carried, reading every article and underlining things and writing notes in the margins.  To my dismay, he always did this before I had a chance to read the paper.  And all the while, Ada would be busy cleaning and cooking and, most importantly, looking after our children...she really was a second mother to Elissa, Lauren and Evan, and that’s how they will remember her.

When Jay and Ada eventually bought a place in Florida, and sold their home in Forest Hills (or should I say Dona sold their home, of course) they became snowbirds and began to spend the warm weather seasons in our home...in fact, that’s where Jay passed away one summer’s night in 2008.  But Ada stayed on, and we became even closer.

Now, you’ve heard about various aspects of Ada’s life, and I’m not going to revisit them...I’d like to take a few minutes to talk about some of the special time I spent with her in her later years.

It partly began with a remarkable event in the spring of 2009: for the first time ever, a female member of my household sat and watched a baseball game with me.  Ada did this because she wanted to spend time with me, and knew that I enjoyed it, and so she asked questions about the rules, and the players, and she became, to some small extent, a Yankees fan.

This all changed, however, the day she discovered The Game Show Network.  From that point on, the two of us spent many evenings together, many hours together, often while Dona worked, agonizing over that most important question in life: deal...or no deal?  She loved that show, but nothing could match the happiness she felt when Steve Harvey and Family Feud would come on.  (By the way, my brother-in-law Russell, the dentist, swears that Steve Harvey’s teeth and mustache are fake, but that’s another story).  Anyway, Ada and I watched together every night.  Once, I remember, she actually began to answer most of the questions correctly before the contestants did, and I turned to her and said “Mom, you’re getting really good at this game”, and she looked at me and replied “Not really, I watched this episode this morning”.

My mother-in-law was a good-hearted, happy person who liked to laugh and to bring joy to the people around her, which she did quite often and quite well.  She will be greatly missed, and remembered with love forever.


   

Grandma Ada, Love Douglas

I’d like to share with you my thoughts and feelings this day as we say goodbye to our beloved grandma. Ada Young was the kindest woman I’ve ever met. She had a unique way to make strangers feel welcome, and never judged anyone.

Her personality was magnetic. Her laughter was contagious. Her heart and compassion knew no limits. Though short in stature, she walked tall and proud. She was selfless.

One of the earliest memories I have of grandma's selflessness was from when I was small. We had a tire swing in our back yard and Evan and I wanted to play. There was a bee’s nest in the tire so Evan and I were afraid. Without hesitation, grandma took only a single paper towel and grabbed the bees hive out of the tire, just so Evan and I could play.

I could tell she was being stung repeatedly, but the joy of watching her grandchildren play was more important to her. I will never forget that day.

I am so blessed to have had you in my life. From nature walks to magic carpet rides. From rummie cub to scrabble games. To baking rugulach and telling jokes. Grandma, you showed me how to appreciate the little things in life. You instilled in me Jewish values and traditions, and above all else, the importance of family and celebrating life.

Bubbie. Even though you are no longer with us in body, your spirit will always be with us. I love you and will miss you always.

Mom, Love Dona

It's day one without you Mom. I could not let go but I remember the words you said to your own mother - It's okay for you to go, we're going to be alright now because of what you taught us. So many thoughts emotions and images are passing through my mind. Memories of The Way We Were. 

This US eighteen months ago when you first gathered us to say goodbye. Clearly there were other plans for you- more family, more events, more love! I found on-line and was able to read to you. The Golden Book that you would read to me as a child that told the story of generations. 


You got to see another spring, new growth and the colors of the sky. The Next Generation of grandchildren will take over but you will always be up there in the rainbow watching over us all. 

I love you Mom.