Written & delivered by Bonnie Mayoff
The day I have dreaded is finally here; I can't believe I'm standing here in front of all of you talking about my mother who is no longer here. When you've known someone all your life and she's made such a huge impact on your life it feels really terrible. One is never really prepared for this life-altering event. However, my mother has left me beautiful, warm memories that I'll hold dear and remember forever.
When I think of my mother I think of a generous, kind, loving, and supportive person. I think of the love, the sharing, the openness and the compassion she had. When I think of my mother I realize that we had the greatest fortune to have had her in our lives for so long. She was truly more special than any words could ever tell. There are so many things that my mother taught my siblings and me and so many ways in which she influenced us over the years. Through examples, she taught us about compassion, devotion, loyalty and making a difference. I'll come back to some of the things we learned because of my mom.
My mother came by her special ways, through having bubby Dora and zaidy Harry as loving excellent role models. They too, were the best grandparents we could ever have had.
My mom was completely devoted to Bubby Dora and Zaidy Harry. They counted on my mom and my mom was always there for those two wonderful people doing whatever she could to help them live full lives into their 90's. Of course she cared for them at the same time as keeping everyone of us kids and my dad perfectly attended to as well. My mom was a good friend to her sister Phyllis and extremely close though they were very different personalities. My mom loved her brother Sid as well. She called him her kid brother even at age 82.
Our mother was the most loving and supportive wife. She was up early every morning by 7:00 to have my dad's half grapefruit and toast with Swiss cheese waiting at his seat. When he moved onto Oatmeal and oranges for breakfast she had that all ready for him. He called her 'Dear' and she called him 'Solly' and before he went off to Continental and upon his return she was at the door with her warm kiss. She'd have dinner on the table ready for him and would keep it warm if there was an important golf game in progress. She was there to tell him the names of familiar faces when he couldn't remember them. After he stopped using Bellingham cleaners because they didn't do a collar just right, she'd iron his shirts perfectly.
She'd go with him to his favorite restaurants such as the Atlantic Pavillion and to cocktail parties, even though she preferred her McDonalds specialties and leading a more homey life. My mom would know when the time was right to talk to my father and when to hold back for a while on those days that business matters sometimes got him a bit anxious. My mom also entertained my father's family from out of town on a regular basis. I'd gotten to know that if any of my dad's siblings from Chicago were coming to visit, I'd be a displaced person to some other room in the house.
Of course my dad adored my mom. He knew when he met her that she was a keeper and together they loved each other and respected each other for 67 years.
My mother could always be counted on to have the large holiday dinners at 325 Dufferin including both our extended family and any person who had no where to go. Robert or Dougie seemed to have friends with no family members in town and they were always welcomed in my mother's home.
Our mother was the one who supported and cared about the under dog, the people that she felt didn't have the same good fortune as she did. My mother always defended those that she felt couldn't defend themselves and sided with one of my oldest friends each and every time we had a childhood fight, for what mattered to my mom was not what we fought about, but only that she didn't have her mother close by in Montreal and needed a defender.
My father had a distant family relative, Bessie who was a patient at the Douglas Hospital in Verdun. My mother was the only person who regularly visited her.
Richie and I used to go with our mother to visit Bessie with homemade potato latkes and chocolate bars in hand. They were a huge treat to her. My mother would ask, "Bessie, who's here to see you?" and she would answer in a weak, but appreciative way, "Zelda." Then my mother would ask "Do you know what I brought for you?" and Bessie would answer, "potato latkes." I'm sure those visiting days were the happiest that Bessie had each year. My mom used to give us candies and quarters for coffee to hand out to the mentally ill patients that would line the cold corridors that led to Bessie's room. She wouldn't exclude anyone to whom she could bring some happiness. I learned a lot from that experience.
It was my mother who was missed by all her children's ex-boyfriends and girl-friends when a break up occurred, not us, the kids. My mother made everyone feel welcome in her home and it was she that made our house a home. She gave it the warmth and appeal that made it a place of comfort and security for over 57 years. Her kind, demonstrative, loving and adoring ways kept us all close and that warmth radiated throughout our home.
My mother was always there for all of us kids. She was there for every parent/teacher interview, for every piano or dance recital, to give us lifts to and from school in inclement weather. My mother was intensely practical. If she was in a hurry, she drove us kids to school in her housecoat. She always drove us to and from our friend's homes and she was there to warm milk over the stovetop to give us hot cocoa in the middle of the night if we'd have a nightmare. My mother had tall glasses with cocoa and sugar all prepared so she'd only have to heat the milk. She would wake us up with hugs and kisses and tucked us in at night with lots of love.
When we got older she shared her car and worked her schedule around ours. There was absolutely nothing in the entire world that my mother wouldn't do for any of us. Love meant opening her heart so we all fit in, all of the time. She was simply a selfless lovely lady with class and grace and all things good.
My mother felt blessed that she had the life that she did
with adoring parents who lived until a ripe old age, and a loving
and appreciative husband, children, grandchildren and great grandchildren
to get so much pleasure from. She always appreciated all of us.
Each of us felt extremely special. Also think I loved and appreciated
my mother even more as I became a mother myself. I recognized
the difficulty in balancing being a mother, wife and friend.
My mother always made it look so easy even though we all put
her through the ringer way too often.
My mother never complained, not about the difficulties that most of us children created for her at one point or another, or about the physical pain from osteoporosis, arthritis or more recently from Alzheimer's or Parkinson's and her bleeding ulcer. She just took things in stride, believing that complaining didn't help, but believing things would just always work out in the end. Every day when I would speak to my mother and ask her how she was doing she'd say, "A little better today". There was no doubt in my mind that my mother wanted me to be protected from hearing that she wasn't doing so well. She didn't want me to worry about her. My mother was never the intrusive mother in law either. Although I'm her daughter, I know with certainty that the use of guilt was foreign to her. Our spouses (and we had a few) never felt obligated to join a family function yet understood that my mother's home was theirs too. She was about making people feel welcome and respecting the rights and wishes of everyone. I learned a lot from that attitude: not to mistake kindness for weakness. My mother had a strong will and made it known when necessary. She would not let people take advantage of her good nature but would always be glad to give back twice as much as she received.
Her grandchildren were her special joy. When I knew that I'd be living out of town, or was aware that I'd not be able to offer my children the unique relationship that grandparents could give their children who live nearby. It tore me apart to think that my kids couldn't just run over to Dufferin Rd. any time they felt like it. I knew very well what my children would be missing out on as I saw from the age of six how my mother doted over my first nephew Ricky and then of course David, precious Lori, Chelsea, Dylan, Harley and Ashley. Although my mother couldn't make it to every school performance, music recital or sporting event in Toronto, she always knew exactly what each of my children was doing and each of our children always called in with an update on the latest happenings. When we came into Montreal, my mom would tie three balloons on the exterior of the front door, one for Cory, one for Oliver and one for Daryl. We would pull into the driveway and my kids immediately saw the special welcoming. Then when we went into the house, my mom wore one of the shirts that my kids said they loved. There was a black short sleeved t-shirt with big colorful buttons all over it that Daryl still talks about today. My three children although miles away, developed a special loving relationship with my mother. They didn't have the physical proximity to be there as frequently as they would have liked, but they did have a special adoration for a grandma that they will never forget.
Dear sweet mother, forever, I will hold you dear to me and always remember the selfless devotion to your family and the unconditional love you showered upon us. Thank you for being the person that you are and making me the person who I am today. You are the very best human being ever created on this planet.
I will close with this thought from Ralph Waldo Emerson, which clearly epitomizes Zelda's life ... "You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late."
Mom, I love you more than words can ever express.
written and delivered by Doug Mayoff
OUR MOTHER WAS BORN IN MONTREAL IN JUNE 1923, TURNING 87 JUST RECENTLY. AT AGE 20, IN1943, MY PARENTS MARRIED, THAT'S OVER 67 YEARS TOGETHER.
A Poem by Donna (Mayoff) Black
To a tranquil place we all know
With a broken heart, I must say good-bye
We'll meet again when I'll be by your side
My mom, my friend, nothing less
The love and devotion you have shown
Made for me a happy home
The delicious baked goods done just right
You were always there for all of us
Through thick and thin, when times were tough
Made for many happier days
Hospital visits and lunches out
You chauffeured friends round about
I will love you forever
You have left a legacy
We will all remember
by Harley Dean Mayoff