Tonight and tomorrow we observe the 17th yahrzeit for my mother, Gertrude Dobrusin z”l.
It is so difficult to believe that it has been 17 years since her death. We feel her presence in our lives in so many ways and all who knew her will always remember her smile and her cheerful disposition.
Mom was, first and foremost, a wife and a mother. She embraced those roles with great dedication, and they defined her life in many ways. She graduated Simmons College with a degree in journalism and gave up her career as a newspaper reporter to marry my dad. She constantly supported him in his career and when he started his own public relations business late in life, she was right there with him editing his material and helping him succeed.
She was so proud of my brother and me and our families. She was also so proud of the fact that both of her sons were rabbis. Although Mom was not particularly committed to traditional Jewish observance and didn’t find great meaning in going to synagogue (unless my brother or I were conducting the service), in many senses, she was, in her own way, a very spiritual person.
As I wrote about her in my book: “Mom often told me: “I find my religion in the flowers and the trees. And while she was hardly what one would call an outdoorswoman, she loved to look at nature from comfortable places inside the house or riding in the car.
She had a special annual ritual as each spring she would take us to the window every day and show us the buds on the trees which I imagine was her equivalent of witnessing the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai. She would look at them with tears in her eyes and loved that moment deeply.”
As I write this, I’m looking out our window hoping that the buds will soon appear and when they do, I’ll be looking at them every day as I do each year.
Her yahrzeit comes in the week before Pesach. While she loved to prepare for the Seder and to see the family together, there was one specific part of the Seder that Mom looked forward to. She loved to read from Psalm 114: “The mountains skipped like rams, the hills like sheep”. Mom loved animals. She grew up on a farm surrounded by the goats and chickens and pigs and her dog, Duke. When she visited us, our animals were drawn to her almost magically.
I think she loved this phrase from the Psalms because she loved animals but also because she found great meaning in the image of the animals skipping with joy. In many ways, Mom skipped through life, always with a smile, always optimistic. Even during difficult times, she remained optimistic and hopeful.
Mom loved the Peanuts gang, especially Snoopy. And, in fact, I like to think she and Snoopy were kindred spirits and I mean that with the most respect. Mom was beloved by all. She was a dreamer, a loyal and loving companion to my dad and was always so full of positive energy and so full of joy.Her memory is always for a blessing to all who knew her and who will never forget her smile and her love of life.