My mother died a year ago today, at the age of 89. She lived a remarkable life, emigrating from Germany, alone, at 17; learning English and graduating from high school in Chicago; meeting my dad-to-be, her one true love, on a blind date; and raising three pretty decent kids. Along the way she became a passionate advocate for the retarded (my sister was born with Down Syndrome; we didn't at that time call it "developmentally disabled") and a dear friend and mentor to dozens of people her age and much younger.
We had the usual mother-daughter "stuff," of course, but the turning point came when Mom and I traveled to China together in November 1996. The two of us turned out to be the only people on our tour. She was a trouper. Confronting a rural pit toilet, nothing but a hole in the ground, is a test of character, not to mention a real bonding experience. We were strangers in a strange land together, on an equal footing for the first time. Her sense of humor blossomed. We had deep, thoughtful conversations. We emerged from that trip as friends, with a much deeper understanding of each other and our respective foibles.
This morning I lit a candle, and picked out a few old photos from the hundreds that my brother Larry and my nephew Josh scanned last year.
I miss you, Mom.
Hertha Levi Basch, 12 December 1916 - 28 June 2006.