A Mothers' day my mother would have loved

My parents both loved a good funeral. What is a good funeral you ask? A good funeral often involves several elements. It helps if the person is of some importance. A good funeral has really good eulogies. The eulogies should be so good that even if you never met the person who had died, by the end of the service, you really miss them.

My father took funerals seriously. He put tremendous care into his crafting of a eulogy. He never sugar coated the qualities of the deceased. His eulogies painted a portrait. My parents loved funerals so much that once when they were visiting me here in New York, they were walking past Riverside Memorial Chapel on 76th street, saw there was a funeral going on and slipped upstairs to take in the funeral. I do remember that they critiqued the service but I don't remember if it got a thumbs up or a thumbs down.

Not quite thirty years ago a friend died far too young. He was a person of some fame. Our synagogue was packed for that funeral, there must have been about 1,500 people weeping for our friend. Our friend was a writer and his friends and family were smart articulate people who all were able to evoke a different facet of our friend.

That evening my mother called me and asked me to replay every bit of the funeral to her. After I had done my job of not quite instant replay of  that funeral my mother thanked me. Then she added that I was lucky to have been able to attend such a funeral. She said that I would be lucky if I could attend one or two other funerals of that kind in my life.

Perhaps I just run in a different crowd than my parents did. Sadly I have attended quite a few funerals of the same caliber as the one I attended thirty years ago.

Yesterday was Mothers Day and it was also the day of the funeral  of my parents' buddy Morty. My sister drove in from Boston, because how could she not? I was so aware as I sat in my synagogue during the funeral service listening to all of the many beautiful eulogies. how my mother, even in her diminished state would have asked to hear about every detail of the service.  My mother would have loved Morty's funeral. Actually, Morty would have loved that funeral too. It hit every note that a funeral of a great good ought to. We laughed and we cried and we all missed Morty. 

My son had made plans for us for Mother's Day that got delayed because of the funeral but also got slightly changed because my sister was joining us with her car.

My son's plan was for us to go to  visit the Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn, go to a kosher market in Boro Park  so we could pick up lamb for my birthday dinner on Friday and end our expedition at a kosher steak house.

These crazy flowers were in the tree pit next to my sister's car. It seemed like an auspicious start for our adventure.

We drive across town, down the FDR and through the Lower East Side  to get to the Manhattan bridge. 

Traffic was worse than we had anticipated. We soon realized that we would miss the cemetery. ( My parents also loved a visit to a good cemetery.)

When we went to Israel a few years ago there were graves of all sorts of greats of the Jewish people that we kept trying to find. One our own, we were completely unsuccessful in finding those graves. Our kids started pretending that we were part of a a Discovery Channel show called Kever ( grave)Hunters. 

We did drive past Greenwood.

It was another Kever Hunters adventure, where we were unable to find the graves that we were seeking.

We had realized that it made more sense to eat first and shop later. My son had found in addition to the kosher steak house a kosher restaurant that sounded even better for us.

It was a kosher kabob place that seems to cater to Jews from the far eastern reaches of the former Soviet Union.  Some of our fellow diners were wearing kippot and tzitzit. Many were not and  many of the women were wearing  the sorts of sexy spandex clothing that most of the frummer women in Boro Park would never dream of wearing. it was perfect for us.

The menu arrived and was written mostly in Russian. Our appropriately bossy waitress herded us through the ordering process.
We got, bread, pickled salad, regular salad, skewered, liver, skewered beef hearts, skewered lamb, skewered beef and something I have not eaten since 1972, sweetbreads.

I skipped the liver and the apparently delicious pickled salad. The food was amazing.

We finished and then waddled to the Kosher market. Despite my son's call earlier in the week assuring him that there would be lots of lamb, there was none. But despite that lack we still had a blast. 
We then waddled back to the car. And passed

A school with my mother's name. The school had buses emblazoned with the name.

OK, I have a low threshold for amusement. But seeing this school made me so happy. ( My mother would have loved seeing these photos.

We passed two dueling Sukkah stores on either side of 13th Avenue.

The sun was setting behind us as we walked to the car.

You could pick up a locally produced magazine in a kiosk next to my sister's car.
We drove back to our apartment. We passed this beautiful old shul on our way our of Boro Park.
We crossed the Brooklyn Bridge

And drove north along the FDR drive. 

 I suppose you could say that we didn't get most of what we set out to do accomplished. We missed getting into Greenwood Cemetery. We didn't buy lamb.
 We did have a fabulous Mothers day.

While we couldn't call my mother to give her a report about every detail of the funeral, my son was fond of Morty and asked us to tell him about all of the eulogies given at the funeral. 


  1. Oh Sarah, I do love this post!

  2. Beautiful post! I thoroughly enjoyed experiencing mothers day through your words and eyes. I also garnered a new perspective on funerals too! Thank you for sharing :)
    -Angela Minerva (Nancy Siegel's Daughter)

  3. I am so touched by these comments...especially the one from my cousin Angela. Your grandparents were such sweeties.My mother adored your grandfather. There was always something so deeply sweet about seeing those cousins together.


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