The matriarch of my family has died. We called her “Bubbie” which is a Yiddish term of endearment for “Grandmother.” Here is something close to what I said at her grave this morning:
Standing here looking at this wooden box leads me to compare Bobi to two kinds of wood – not types of trees, but lumber. One is the king post of a ship – a vertical support usually found at the bow, where the waves hit first and hardest. It is part of the structure that bears the initial brunt of the forces brought to bear on a vessel as it shoulders into whatever lies in its direction of travel.
The other thing brought to mind is a rough-hewn beam in a Russian peasant’s house. I imagine the house as a poorly-lit but sturdy structure assembled by hand with simple materials. This sharp-edged wooden beam sometimes gave the inhabitants splinters if they brushed up against it, but it held up the house, defined its shape and sheltered its people.
I will try to speak in her voice. “Flowers?! Feh! (dismissive hand gesture) – who needs them? What a waste! If you want to do something useful, live like me. Spend your time helping others. Measure your worth by the amount of good you bring. Make the world a better place. Feed the hungry. Aid the helpless. Assist the poor to attain the dignity they deserve. When you are in a wooden box, what will they say about you? What good were you?
Of course, Bobi was not an egotist. She would never literally have said or thought “live like me.” She was a one-woman social services agency who spoke of her achievements only if pressed and then in minimal terms. She was self-effacing, even self-denying. But the rest is true to form. As long as each of us makes it our job to do these things, then my grandmother is not totally gone; she will live on in our actions. If you want to keep part of her alive, then act as she would.
Here is the official obituary posted in the Gloucester County Times on 2/11/2009:
Bernice Lynn (Tuler) Greenspan, 95, wife of the late Jack Greenspan of King of Prussia, PA and formerly of Cherry Hill, NJ died at home on Saturday, February 7, 2009.
Born in Zhitomir, Ukraine, she was the daughter of the late Boris and Fraeda (Feldman) Greenspan.
Mrs. Greenspan was an administrative assistant at the Camden County Welfare Office from 1979 to 1994 and prior to that she worked at the Walgreen’s Headquarters in Chicago.
Surviving are 2 sons: Dr. Bertram Greenspan of Richwood, NJ, Dr. Cyril Greenspan of King of Prussia, PA, 6 Grandchildren.
A Graveside Funeral Service will be held in Haym Salomon Memorial Park, 200 Moores Road, Frazer, PA on Friday, February 13, 2009 at 10:00 am.
Contributions may be sent to Wissahickon Hospice, 150 Monument Road, Suite 300, Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004.
Condolences may be given at www.DevlinRosmosKepp.com.
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