I always wondered if I’d have the courage to write without limitations here. I too have spent a lifetime building walls to protect myself from the things that endanger or hurt me. Walls protect us from invaders and intruders and my walls have protected me. I am trying, as I write here, to lower my walls althought I confess that is not easy for me.
This was a painful mother’s day in the Rockind family. My father in law is true hero, a representative of America’s Greatest Generation — the men who fought the Nazi’s and Japanese in World War II. I would be impressed with him were there nothing else to his service record. Yet there is more. He was a Normandy . . . on D-Day. One of those scared boys that we saw in the movie, Saving Private Ryan, wading through the bloodstained waters and sand to begin the fight against the Nazi’s. He was wounded as well . . . shot by a German soldier. He even returned to duty, eschewing the chance to go home. A hero. Before my wife was a glint in his eye, he was a hero to my family made up of Jews of Europe. Barrell-chested with thick wavy hair, he seemed to embody that generation . . . confident, handsome, courageous and full of vigor. He is much older now, I am sad to report and while he could fight through the Great Depression (as a child), the war and the Nazi’s, he is fighting a too-tough opponent — Father Time. He is losing. This was a painful Mother’s Day in our home. My father in law, once so strong and capable, is quite sick. I am choking back tears as I write this . . . it was painful to watch him on Mother’s Day. It was even more painful to watch my beautiful wife and her mother. I could feel and see their pain.
1000 miles away, my mother was in Florida. She was having no easier a time. This was her first Mother’s Day without her mother — my grandmother, of blessed memory. She passed away recently. Shortly after her husband, my grandfather. Married for nearly 3/4 of a century, both Holocaust survivors, it turns out that she could not survive without her husband. I guess when you live together so long you share so much . . . in this case, they shared a heart and when his stopped beating hers did too. I knew my mother was suffering and I sent her a short message that I hoped would cheer her up . . . I talked to her later that day. I was right. She was hurting. And it did make her feel better but she spent Mother’s Day in pain too.
I reminded her in my note that when we were young, she’d sneak downstairs after a fight and comfort us — a reminder that we were still loved and that tomorrow w0uld be a new day. My dad gave me my gift of gab. She taught me love and compassion. I love her. I feel for her, this unique Mother’s Day — without her mother. I have compassion for my ailing heroic father-in-law. I spent Mother’s Day using that which my mother taught me. It was a painful Mother’s Day but an important one.
Please … look around. Give someone in your life a hug. Tomorrow could a day too late.