In the summer of 1968, sometime in the month of Tamuz, my mother suffered a heart attack. She was sixty-three years of age. The doctors said that it was a severe heart attack and she would have to be hospitalized for some time. In Samarkand of those days, the hospital did not have an ICU and the rooms were not air conditioned. It did not even have a constant supply of oxygen. It was very hot, and my mother had to lie there in a stifling room, attached to an IV drip.

We stayed at her bedside throughout her hospital stay

We stayed at her bedside throughout her hospital stay. My brother Berel and I, as well as our cousin Yaakov Pil, took turns so that she wouldn’t be alone. Throughout that time we heard her say: “I have no complaints. I had the merit of raising a family and bringing up children who remained religious despite all the hardships. I married them off and have seen grandchildren from each of them. True, it would be wonderful to live another ten or fifteen years, but I have no complaints against G‑d. Thank Hashem, I have fulfilled my mission in this world.” These words were repeated over and over during the three weeks she spent in the hospital.

On Tuesday morning, 27 Tamuz, my mother felt that her final moments had arrived. I was there with her at the time, and she asked me to call my father immediately. She wanted to say goodbye. Softly she said, “We lived together for forty-three years.”

It was hard for me to call my father under these circumstances. I was afraid that he wouldn’t be able to bear the emotional burden. I called my brother Berel and explained the situation, and he immediately arrived at the hospital.

Meanwhile, my mother called me and said, “Don’t you realize the situation I am in right now?” She asked me to recite Shema with her. I began to say Shema and then Boruch Shem, word for word. "Blessed be the name of the glory of His kingdom for ever and ever." After saying the final word, “va’ed,” she passed away.

Throughout my mother's time in hospital, my father would prepare cereal for her every morning and bring it to her room. The morning she died, I stood there waiting with my brother for him to come so that he wouldn’t walk in and suddenly be confronted by the news. We kept going out to the hall to see if he had come.

A short while later we saw him walking heavily towards her room, empty-handed. Before we even had a chance to go over to him, he called out in tears, “Kinderlach, children, I know already.”

We couldn’t understand how he found out so quickly. She had passed away a mere half hour earlier, and our house was not equipped with a telephone. How had the news reached him so soon?

Later, my brother-in-law Eliyahu Mishulovin related that my father had placed the cereal on the stove at home in the morning, as he always did, and he had then gone to pray. A short time later, he suddenly returned home and shut the fire, saying, “The cereal isn’t needed, and an onein, amourner, is exempt from prayer.” My brother-in-law and his brother Dovid, who were then in the house, yelled at him for talking that way. “Did you hear something?!” they asked him.

“I didn’t hear anything,” he replied softly, “but I already know everything that happened.” And he quickly made his way to the hospital.

My father wanted my mother’s funeral to be as soon as possible, even if no more than ten men would be present, explaining that it is difficult for the soul of the deceased to experience the wait between death and burial. In Samarkand of those days, all of the preparations for the burial, including the ritual purification of the body, were performed in the home of the deceased. My father was in the house and he sobbed the entire time.

Suddenly, we didn’t hear him anymore, and an eerie quiet reigned over the house. My brother Berel and I were very apprehensive. What had happened? We began looking for him throughout the house, but we were unable to find him.

We finally discovered him outside among the fruit trees in the backyard, leaning on one of the trees. We ran over to him and asked cautiously, “What happened? Do you not feel well?”

Our father replied: “Kinderlach, I am so broken; I have never felt as broken as this my entire life. I remembered that when our Forefather Yaakov was reunited with his son Yosef, his heart was filled with an overwhelming love. At that point, he decided to direct his intense emotion Above, by reciting the Shema. I also want to use this moment, when my heart is broken. I am saying Vidui now, the confessional prayer. Please do not disturb me.” We left him by the tree until he was ready.

In accordance with my father’s wishes, we held the funeral immediately. The Bucharian custom in Samarkand was to carry the casket to the cemetery by shoulder,We held the funeral immediately without using any other means of transportation, as a way of honoring the deceased. Being that we resided in the new city and the cemetery was located in the old city, we carried the casket a distance of over three miles to the cemetery.

My mother was buried next to her sister, our aunt Chaya Aidel Pil. Chaya Aidel had died a half year earlier, after being ill for some time, and my mother had cared for her a lot throughout that time. As per my father’s request, we connected the two gravestones with an additional stone upon which was inscribed, “Those who were beloved and pleasant in their lifetime, were not parted in their death.”

At the time of my mother’s illness and subsequent death, my sister Sarah Mishulovin was living at the home of R. Sholom Ber and Asya Raskin, in the suburbs of the city of Gorky, in eastern Russia. That year had been a difficult one for her. Her husband R. Eliyahu was ill himself, and the yeshiva boys had been studying in their home, which made for an atmosphere of stress and constant worry. On top of all this, her children remained at home instead of attending school, so each knock on the door was cause for even more fear and anxiety. We all decided that she should leave for a vacation and relax, enabling her to at least temporarily put her worries out of her mind.

We would communicate by means of letters, and when my mother was hospitalized, Sarah asked why she had stopped receiving letters from Mother. With each letter her worry grew, and shortly before our mother’s passing, she sent a telegram stating that if she would not be told why Mother wasn’t writing, she would return home immediately. We replied that she could return if she desired.

A few days later, she returned to Samarkand. We couldn’t go out to greet her: we were already sitting in mourning at home. As soon as she entered the yard, she ran towards the house, asking, “Where’s Mother?!” I went out of the house, and when she saw the new growth of beard on my chin, she immediately burst out in tears.

Reflecting on the timing of my mother’s sickness and subsequent death, I found it interesting to note that many aspects of her life were connected with the number three. She lived for sixty-three years; she had three children; she fell ill on a Tuesday, the third day if the week, and passed away three weeks later, also on a Tuesday. Her death took place during the traditional Three Weeks of mourning, and my sister Sarah arrived from Gorky thirty days after she had left.