May 20, 2005

My mother Doris passed away yesterday after suffering a debilitating illness for years - Alzheimer's disease. I miss her terribly, as I've missed her for the last 3 years, as the disease reached its end stages.

Before she got sick, the one thing she always prayed for, and told me so every time we were together, is that I would meet Miss. Wonderful.  "You're too great a guy to be by yourself", she would say to me. I had been divorced and alone for 14 years, when I finally met Miss. Wonderful, who is now Mrs. Friedlander. My mother didn't really get to know Robin at all, who happened on the scene at the very end of my mother's cognizance, which soon after was lost completely and permanently. But at least I did meet and marry Miss. Wonderful while my mother was alive.

She can rest easy now. She had a wonderful life, lived to 84, outlived 3 husbands and a daughter, and knew scores of people that uniformly loved her. When my dad died at the ripe old age of 41, my mother took the bull by the horns and figured out how to raise 3 kids with no profession, a mortgage, and a mere $2000 life insurance benefit. My brother and I are still here, so I guess she did it (my sister didn't make it though, but that was not my mom's fault).

She was generous, honest, vivacious, courageous, articulate, physically beautiful, funny, intelligent, well read, and gracious. She was outgoing and passionate, the world was her oyster, and she never wanted anything for herself - she wished only for happiness for her children and grandchildren.  I never had to look far for a willing ear, to listen to my joys or my troubles, and to give me the gift of her vast wisdom and experience.

She traveled the world, had her own yacht once (with her 3rd husband) and had great fun. What a laugh she had. She was truly, THE LIFE OF THE PARTY. Often, when I would come over to her place for a visit, I would see folks I had never set eyes on before. She would introduce them - This is (Harry and Betty, or Ming and Ying, or Judy and Trudy, or Sam and Sophie). We met them in (Hong Kong, or Australia, or Thailand, or France). We told them they could stay with us if they ever came to New York, and they just showed up!

She knew how to love totally and fully. She was never divorced, and told me that her first 2 husbands checked out while in the saddle. That was my mother - never ashamed of anything she ever did. And never afraid to tell someone a certain 2 words if she felt that person needed to hear them. She never said them to me though. Those of you that say you were screwed up by your mother? You didn't have my mother for a mother. My mother taught me how to love and to receive love. My father died so young, it was my mother that sat me down and taught me about the "birds and the bees". There was no shame in our home.

I'm greatly relieved she is at rest - I was her Power of Attorney and had been responsible for her, since husband number 3 passed. I managed to get her into a nursing home as a resident - nobody can retain their sanity and care for an Alzheimer's patient at home. Still, I am bereaved in the greatest sense of the word. If not for my angel, Robin (who stood by my side, every step of the way through this ordeal), I would be inconsolably desolate.

She will be cremated, and her ashes scattered at sea. Those were her express wishes. Since she had a yacht once, I think it's fitting. Husband 3 - a great man in his own right - had the same funeral. He died 3 years ago, to the day (plus 1).

My mother Doris was a powerful force in so many people’s lives. Even at the end, the aids and nurses in the dementia ward adored her, as did most of the people that she encountered in her long, amazing life.

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