It is my sad news to inform you that my beloved mother, Sylvia, passed away peacefully at 7:20 p.m. on Sunday, January 7, 2007, at the age of 82, with loved ones and myself by her side.
She had been hospitalized since December 12, following an arduous but worthwhile weekend trip with me to Pittsburgh to visit her elder brother Morris and his family, whom she had not seen in well over 20 years. While in the hospital, she developed pneumonia but the efforts of the doctors were unsuccessful.
Mom was born on December 14, 1924 and grew up as the only Jewish girl in Cuyahoga Falls, OH, near Akron. As a young woman, she loved dancing, which was a lifelong passion of hers, even into old age. She attended Rutgers University and received her Masters in Social Work from Simmons College. She met my father, Don, in Boston, and they married in 1960. After we moved to Worcester, MA, and I reached age 10, she resumed working for Jewish Family Services for nearly 20 years as a psychiatric social worker and helped many people. She and my father travelled to Britain several times and visited me during my year abroad in Israel. We took other family trips when I was young to Hawaii and the Caribbean.
After she and my father moved to Seattle in 1995, she joined my father at PFLAG meetings; cooked meals for Lambert House (a gay youth drop-in center); attended Crones meetings (a discussion group for older women); studied Buddhist philosophy; and walked a great deal. She enjoyed mystery novels and even became a Mariners (baseball) fan (but only on TV!). We went to dinner together at restaurants all over Seattle every Friday for many years. As my father ailed in his last years and months, she was devoted to taking care of him, and kept him company every single day of the six months he spent in a skilled nursing facility.
Mom maintained friendships of up to 50 years with dear friends from the East Coast. She was very generous to friends and to her home care workers, some of whom she was extremely fond of, and it was mutual. Most of all, she loved John, a family friend who is more like family after having worked for my parents for over four years; and Ken, my great friend, with whom she attended many concerts and ballets, traveled with to Hawaii and the Virgin Islands, and went dancing as long as she could. They were both like sons to her. She was always supportive of me as a gay man and my relationships and other choices in life and work, and was very fond of my friends.
She lived almost 44 years after developing diabetes at age 38 in 1963, thanks to her tremendous discipline and keeping active until late in life, walking as much as she could for as long as she could. She was fond of her routines, made sure everything was in its place (in so small part to her being legally blind from diabetes), and continued to take pride in her appearance until the very end, enjoying buying lovely jewelry, attractive clothes and having her hair and nails done each week. She faced and overcame a number of difficult medical episodes in the last few years, showing a spunk and resilience she did not always recognize in herself.
In recent years, she became very fond of Konnie and Joyce, two home care workers, whose devotion and patience was endless and for whose service and companionship I will be forever grateful; and her doctor, Peter Shalit, who provided calm and professional care for her various ailments.
The picture above was taken this past (2006) Mother's Day. Here is a Word file containing a number of pictures from the past 44 years.
Should you wish, donations in my mother's memory may be made to the American Diabetes Association.