This is based on remarks I delivered at the celebration of my Mom’s life held on Wednesday, January 9, 2019. Memorials may be made in Debi Jorbin’s memory to American Cancer Society, www.cancer.org.
Last year, I went to the National Gallery of Art and saw a painting there from Pablo Picasso. It’s a painting called The Lovers and it’s one that my parents have had a print of in their living room for at least as long as I can remember.
I brought up this painting to my mom and was hoping for some incredible story, something maybe about seeing this painting with my dad and him holder in a similar embrace, but all she can remember is that her and my dad had liked it and she had framed it herself. Framing things was something my mom always enjoyed doing. While I was Growing up, she worked at The Great Frame Up. One of my mom’s favorite gifts to give people for a bar/bat mitzvah or wedding was a framed copy of the invitation. She was able to use her creativity.
Her other favorite gift to give was hand made baby blankets. She would design these blankets for the births of friends and family and sewing them brought her an incredible amount of joy.
Her creativity wasn’t the only thing my mom brought to this world. She also brought a smile, laughter and a sense of humor.
An example of her sense of humor came just a short time ago when I had asked her if I could throw a at her. She wasn’t impressed. It hadn’t been an easy day. So, of course, she said no, But she told me that I could throw one at my brother and later after I had thrown a snowball at him, My mom gave me a smile and a thumbs up. So , I hope you know that means I have mom’s permission to throw at you in perpetuity.
It’s not just throwing snowballs that My mom supported me with. My mom was always supportive of everything I did. From cheering me on as I played sports as a kid, to getting older and hearing about me participate in Model UN, my mom supported me in everything I did. Unless it involved a gun or playing sports in the living room, my mom never said no to me wanting to try something new. She encouraged me to open my eyes and experience as much of the world as I could.
My mom also was willing to open her eyes. Despite not being born a Sox fan, my mom opened her eyes to see that there is a quality baseball team in Chicago. She was a little more accepting of the other team in Chicago than my brother and I, but that’s in part becouse she was a supportive person to everyone.
As I got older and began to appreciate art more, I could always count on my mom to want to hear about an exhibit I saw or a gallery I visited. She was happy I was happy.
But Lovers by Picasso pails in comparison to Lovers that we’re my parents. In my mom’s final hours, she didn’t ask for medicine. She didn’t ask food or drink. She asked for my Father to hold her. Lovers until the end.
While Picasso’s Lovers will always make me think of my parents, there is one picture of my mom that I took that sums her up well. It was my brother’s wedding day. She was wearing her new dress, incredibly happy for Brother and to welcome Gretchen into the family, though also stressed from the big day. I handed her my flask, and she took a swig as I took her picture.
So if you have a flask with you, I would like to invite you to take it out and join me as I raise this to my mom. To the woman who raised me, the woman who supported me.
One final thing has stuck with me over the last week. Until she could no longer work, my mom spent about 20 years as a receptionist at a pediatricians office. While I always knew how much her valued her (they shut down the office for an afternoon when my grandmother passed away so that everyone could be there to support my mom), at the celebration of life, a woman who no one in my family knew walked up to us to offer her condolences and explained that her kids were patients at the pediatrician, and my mom had always helped her and been kind to her and her family. Imagine providing such incredible customer service that someone wants to attend your funeral. That was my mom.