When I was a child, I looked up to my mother. She was the woman who tended to my brothers and myself, who helped my father in his business, who prepared meals, paid bills, drove carpool, helped us with homework, and helped to create beautiful cover pages for school projects. She taught us good manners, took us to museums and concerts, travelled with us, and showed us love and devotion. She, along with my father, created a loving home, and with their examples and with our attendance in synagogue, and Jewish day schools, my parents instilled Jewish values in their three children.
She would come to my day school sometimes to attend to administrative issues in the main office. If a classmate would see her in the hallway, they’d announce to me: “Pearl, your mother is here. She is so beautiful.”
I was pleased as punch and would excuse myself from class or the lunchroom to go and see her, say hello, and give her a kiss.
I was proud then. I am proud today.
This woman who raised three fine children and nursed her three children through boo-boos in their lifetime, some more serious than others, also nursed our father through multiple illnesses. She dedicated herself to his well-being, and when she couldn’t do it all on her own, she hired caregivers to help her with his home care.
When my father was hospitalized multiple times, some of the stays mere days, others lengthy months, my mother was there. Every day. For hours at a stretch. At my father’s side. Helping him with eating, drinking and functioning. Explaining things to him with patience. Talking to doctors. Talking to pharmacists.Talking to physical therapists and social workers. Consulting with family members in the medical field.
Although thoroughly physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted, my mother was stoic.At least to us and everyone around her. She didn’t complain. She seemingly accepted the situation and figured out how best to deal with it.
But no doubt, when she came home to an empty house,she shed tears behind closed doors and considered the future and the bleakness that she would inevitably be facing.
My father passed away in March 2009. And my mother carried on.
She carried on, successfully managing paperwork and legalities that one is faced with upon the death of a spouse. And she met each day in her gentle but effective manner.
Much of her focus for the previous number of years had been on my father’s well-being, and for years before that on her young children’s well-being.
But she herself soon faced serious medical challenges of her own, and physical limitations that have gotten worse over time.
But like a fine Timex watch, she keeps on ticking. She attends a social-recreational program several times a week, shops and cooks for herself, drives, keeps up with family and friends. Most of all, she is still a mother. Our mother. Our beautiful mother.
Taken from Proverbs 31, Eishet Chayil, is a 22-verse Hebrew acrostic sung at the Shabbat table. The Eishet Chayil, the Woman of Valor, is the woman who sets the tone of love, spirituality, and personal growth for all those around her. To know her is to appreciate her strength and talents.
We sing this beautiful song every week to honor and recognize the female head of the household and the important role she plays in her family’s life.
So today, on this Mother’s Day, May 14, 2017, I want to say to my mother, my beautiful mother, that I am proud of you, I love you, I cherish you. And just like an Eishet Chayil, who “opens her mouth with wisdom and a lesson of kindness is on her tongue,” your “worth is far above pearls.”