Mike's words of remembrance followed by Marianne's
Max and Evelyn Cohen brought a blond haired baby girl into this world. They loved their only child. She learned only love, friendship and devotion in their caring and never new how to express herself in any other way. Without siblings she always felt very close to her aunts, uncles and cousins. She would spend time with them every chance she got. Growing up in Brookline's Jewish community, she made lifelong friends with summer trips to Nantasket beach. One warm sunny day, two moms seated next to each other on a stretch of sand off C street started talking. Moms being moms, Grandma boasted of her 13 year old Roberta Beth and Nini, boasted of her 15 year old destined to be a doctor son, Joel. I like to think that the day their moms introduced them, both young beach goers knew their lives would be forever filled with adoration.
Mom graduated from Tufts with a degree in early childhood education after leaving Brookline High. She went on to enthrall nursery school students with lots of arts and crafts while instilling an appreciation for all that is good in this world.
Mom saw her beau every at every opportunity and they were married after what seemed like an extraordinarily long engagement. They married, honeymooned at the Nevele in the Catskills, and drove across the country in VW Bug, camped in a tent along the way and visiting the national parks. The trek sparked Mom’s adventurous spirit and lifelong love for culture, nature and travelling to far off places. From the Longwood Ave. apartment, where Mom and Dad lived when I was born, to Camp Lejeune and the remote Island of Vieques off the coast of Puerto Rico, she jauntily ignored the hardships of living in remote places and happily embraced the challenge of making a three room shack a comfortable home for her Naval Officer and son. Back in her home state and living in a Watertown garden apartment, Marianne made our family complete and destined Mom for a larger home in Needham and to a even larger and historic colonial home in Westborough. She enjoyed shopping for antiques to adorn it with period decorations. Mom sewed many needlepoint pillows to scatter around the house and knitted each of us a few sweaters. Looking back, she remarked to Dad, “Why are we moving way out to the country, there are no Jews there?” Well, she went on to join the Westborough Area Jewish Women Association. The klatch some years later removed women from their name and then founded Temple B’Nai Shalom. She was at the heart of the temple community.
When Marianne and I were young, Mom and Dad every so often travelled to far off places and left us with family friends, only to bring us souvenirs. But they were sure to bring us along for the family camping trips to Fransted Campground in the White Mountains where we would swim, hike the tallest mountains including Mt. Washington and sit by the campfires toasting marshmallows. There was nothing Mom would not attempt to try or do.
Mom had a tight knit group of friends that would rotate hosting holiday dinners. But my favorite times were when we hosted. Mom made the best latkes, kugels, and little white puffy cookies - also known as merengues. But to let you in on a little secret. While prepping the house and cooking, she was an entirely different person. She became short tempered and no matter where you were and what you were doing, you were in the way. But, she was most famous for her Challas from small to boat sized and always filled with the right amount of love and joy.
Mom was a doer. When UMass Hospital opened, she volunteered to start the gift shop. She really enjoyed finding the items to stock the shelves with and setting up the display items. As Marianne and I grew more independent, she earned a Recreational Therapist Certificate at Northeastern and put it to use at the Westborough Rehab keeping the residents active and providing a means for them to express their creativity. A little anecdote, when Mom first entered assisted living, the Alzheimer's had progressed to the point that her perception was a little off. At some level Mom understood she had Alzheimer’s, but wanted so badly to continue giving that she insisted on “assisting” the staff when conducting resident activities. Her desire to befriend, aid and love never wavered even in sickness.
Mom, I proclaim my appreciation for all to hear:
- Thanks for not being afraid to try new things, explore the world and encourage us to do the same
- Thanks for singing with me even when together we struggled to carry a tune
- Thanks for teaching us how to love each other and appreciate life
- Thanks for cooking many a dinner that dried out or became soggy by the time Dad came home from work
- Thanks for teaching us there is no place for hate in this world
- Thanks for typing my 6th grade Michelangelo paper
- Thanks for loving each and every one of my friends
- Thanks for the times you kept my secrets from Dad
- Thanks for providing the unconditional love and support that is forever in my soul
Marianne's words of remembrance
As a parent, you hope that your children inherit your best qualities. My mother had amazing traits and I can only hope I can carry on some of her best ones and pass them down to my girls.
Before I talk about her qualities, I love to remember that even though my mom was an only child, I was able to carry on her name. For the first 30 years of my life, I was a Seidman. And then 19 years ago, I became a Cohen just like she was and I was married with the same wedding ring she wore marrying my dad 55 years ago. Thank you Rich for allowing me to do that.
So here are the qualities about my mom that I love:
The Love of Reading. Mom was always reading something. It amazed me how she could read more than one thing at a time and still follow the story in all of them. At night when everyone else was watching TV or doing homework, mom would be engrossed in another book. I am so grateful to have acquired this love of reading and the joy it brings to me every night. I loved how we shared books and I never worried that if I needed a new one, she would have one waiting for me. I still envy how she would just sit and read for hours finishing a book in one day. I will now smile every time I start a new book thinking about if she would like it.
Adventure. As Mike mentioned, Mom loved adventure. Who else could I spend the night on Mt. Washington on the porch of a hut without reservations and the right equipment? She made it fun and interesting and an experience I will never forget. Eating sardines and GORP for dinner and then heading down the path the next morning to meet Mike and Dad who had gone all the way down to meet Macho. Traveling, flying around in a small plane, following the school bus to the High School Superbowl to see the game and watch me march as Drum Major, Canoe Kayaking, camping, and exploring,
On our trip to Bermuda, we rented 2 mopeds, one for dad and me and one for mom and Mike. As we left the parking lot, Dad said to me “make sure they are behind us.” When I turned around, mom forgot about the driving on the other side of the road and instead of turning out of the parking lot, she went right up the embankment across the street. Dad and I turned around and drove back as we were really worried and there she was just laughing at herself. Just another adventure!
For 5 years Rich and I would bring the girls down to Florida to visit them (or they brought us down) and we had a blast. While down there, we always took some type of trip. Of course some were more adventurous than others. As Shosh mentioned, our overnight trip to Disney included many mishaps but we of course had a great time.
Another example of how she weathered some interestings adventures includes our trip back from Detroit after Carly’s baby naming. Due to bad weather, mom, dad, Rich and I ended up driving home from Philadelphia in a rented car while I was 3 months pregnant. I was miserable and she just kept telling us that it was an adventure. To her, the glass was always ½ full, not ½ empty.
Compassion. Mom’s choice of jobs showcases her compassion in such a great way. She began her career as a Nursery school teacher and ultimately went back to school to become a recreational therapist. In addition, she was always willing to volunteer to help anyone at any time. My love of philanthropy and volunteering all stem from her and most of you know I am extremely involved in both and like her, can’t say “no”.
My friend Harry wrote “There was a time in my life when I was setting a new course and your mother took me in like I was one of her own. For that I am forever grateful.”
Friendship. When mom made a friend, it was a friend for life. She knew when to comfort someone, when to make someone laugh and when to just be there. She was a true role model when it comes to friendship.
Days of our Lives. Enough said! Seriously, while I was recuperating from hand surgery in 7th grade, I remember lying in her bed watching Days of our Lives for the first time and I was hooked. I still watch it as much as I can knowing she would be proud.
Dealing with teenage girls! I have come to know that raising a young woman is not the easiest thing around (I have 2 and I know), but she weathered the “Marianne storm” with as much grace as possible. Dad would come home at the end of the night and ask her what kind of mood I was in and if it was “safe.” I now know what payback is like. Mike and I did often did not get along and she lost her patience but by the end of the day, a smile was back on her face.
Creativity. Mom was always making something. Whether it was knitting the 4 of us matching icelandic sweaters, needlepointing, making centerpieces for parties, working on a crafts project with Elianna, or leading senior citizens in making jewelry. She had tons of arts and crafts supplies, which the girls loved. It’s no wonder she ultimately put this to use for others. I now understand putting a personal touch on everything you do and when I am creating anything, I always have her on my mind.
Fighting for what she believed in. Every year, she would come to teach my elementary classes about Judaism and made latkes for all of my classmates. She felt it was important to educate those that were not exposed to what we believed. She went as far as going to the school department to fight to change the Christmas Ball to the Holiday Ball. I have also done these things all because of her. I have visited my girl’s classrooms, I have visited the Superintendent’s office many times and it may embarrass my children but if it’s important I will fight for what I believe as well.
Strength. Growing up Dad, was not around that much due to his schedule. This meant mom was the glue that kept us together. She drove me everywhere: to Worcester for both clarinet lessons and physical therapy before school just so I could have an appointment with the therapist I thought was cute, to horseback riding lessons and to see my camp friends who didn’t live close by. She cooked, she maintained the house, she raked the millions of leaves in our yard and was always there for us when we needed her. And she dealt with the “Seidman” personality. As Rich and Jody can attest, this is not the easiest thing. And she always put up with my dad’s whims with a smile on her face.
Laughter. As Rich reminded me, Mom’s laugh was infectious. When she laughed, it would start as a giggle, and then it would grow and as it did, you would begin to laugh with her. It just made you happy. When she went into Braeburn Gardens, we thought we’d bring our dog Neo in to see her as she loved dogs. For those of you that don’t know, Neo is a 100lb Lab, he’s not small. And he’s not not the type of dog who gets into your face to give kisses but when we’d bring him in to see her, he would immediately jump on her bed and start kissing her and she loved it. She would giggle and giggle and it just brought joy to all. Thank you mom for showing me the gift of laughter.
Love - Mom loved deeply and with her whole heart. Once you entered her heart, you had a place forever. She would do anything for those she loved. She and dad showed us what true love is...Rich and I are so blessed to have them as role models for what marriage should be. Is it all roses? No and that’s the beauty of their relationship. She loved her family more than anything else. She loved being a grandmother, she was proud of everything we did and I know she’s looking down on us with love. Guiding us with her spirit. I hope I can one day to pass these traits along to my girls as well.
Lastly, thank you for being my mom.