Our Parents

Honoring a Parent With Dementia
I look briefly at my mom, who no longer cares about what she wears or whether she is washed. Then I take a more careful look.
Have I Turned Into My Mother?
More than children learn from texts, they learn from living examples of what they see.
The Unwanted Orphan Who Built a Legacy of Kindness
My mother, Mary Bader Schwager, knew no other way than to lead by her heart, to imagine, and then provide the love and support she hadn’t received as a child.
Light Over Darkness: My Mother’s Return to Kindling Shabbat Candles
The adjustments were enormous, for all of us. My mother and I were still grieving, though it was too painful for her to talk about.
My Mother-in-Law, the Pilot Who Wanted to Be a Bestselling Author
My mother-in-law had wanted me to find a publisher for the content of her five notebooks that she filled with vignettes, quotes and her philosophy on family and faith. Not only that—she had the major publishing houses in mind.
My Father’s Lasting Sentiments: Peace and Harmony
Now that he’s facing many health problems, so much of what seemed to make my dad unique is gone.
Lessons From an Aging Mother
I wish life was easier for my mother; that she still had full use of her memory, language and rational faculties. But given the realities, I am also grateful for the opportunity to learn new lessons that my mother’s aging and illnesses present.
My Father's Song
With all the upheaval, there was nothing to do but sing. He sang on the boat to Canada and whenever else life got tough.
Daddy’s Strength, His Tefillin and His Fight Against Cancer
He looks so strong in his tallit and tefillin, with the determination of a man prepared to fight, yet with the resignation of one discovering that his life is not in his control.
Mourning My Father
Healing the Loss of a Parent Through Jewish Ritual
Memories of My Zeidy and His Language of Love
My maternal grandfather, whom we lovingly called Zeidy, didn’t speak the same language as his young grandchildren. But Zeidy knew other languages as well—the language of the Talmud and its depths of understanding, and the language of purity and character refinement—both of which increased his proficiency in the often wordless language of love and connection to his beloved family and students.
Making the Most of My 90-Year-Old Father-in-Law’s Long Visit
It was almost like taking care of another child.
I Carry Your Heart
When did they age? I was shocked to see my parents, particularly my mother, looking fragile and vulnerable when I walked through the door, excited to spend Shabbat with them.
How I Found My Path After My Father's Death
I rang the bell, and my big brother opened the door. “Daddy’s dead.” I screamed, “You’re lying, you’re lying!”
Mud, Campfires and Family Memories
The Joys of Unplugging
I wasn’t sure what this trip would be like, since we hadn’t been camping in a while, and we were hardly kids anymore. But not only did this camping trip work well, it shed a whole new light onto my family camping experiences.
My Mother's Holocaust Memories
My grandparents were forced in one direction, my mother and her sister in another.
A Father's Love
Each year I struggle to make my father’s memory relevant to my children’s lives. I fight against time itself, which threatens to eradicate the deep connection I shared with my father.
Men walk into your apartment carrying a stretcher. “I’m not going to the hospital,” you say.
Mommy's Nook
My mother had a special corner we children called “Mommy’s nook.” The nook was a haven that attracted the unfortunate—spinsters, widows, women who were destitute, lonely, or otherwise down and out.
Goodbye, Mom
Although my mother, of blessed memory, passed away 17 years ago, around the time of her yahrzeit (anniversary of her death) I always remember the extraordinary series of events that ensured I made it to her funeral.
Praying With Mom
We switched roles. It was my turn to tuck her in, with sweet whispers on the evening breeze. As she drifted to sleep, I sat by the hospital bed (and later the nursing-home bed) and sang Yiddishe lullabies—Jewish words and melodies.
A Different Kind of Father's Day
I’d see a father playing with his children and feel a deep stabbing pain. A friend would mention asking her father for advice, and I’d feel jealousy running through my veins. I could easily end up in tears by reading a children’s book about happy families.
I was young, naive and immature, and she seemed, well, foreign. You know the ways of mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law. Too many phone calls, and it’s an invasion of privacy; not enough, and you say she doesn’t care . . .
Mother, Look at us Now!
Learning to live with a critical parent
How did I do it? How did I learn to accept, and even love, my critical parent? I identified seven steps, what I call the “Seven Healing Tools,” which enabled me to deal with a difficult person. I apply these tools to my mother, and to any and all difficult people I come in contact with...
Embracing Dad's Wisdom
I tried to extract as much wisdom and guidance from him as possible. “Talk more, Dad,” I pleaded. “I just want to hear you speak. Your words are my inheritance. I’m going to embrace them forever. Tell me what matters in life. Tell me what’s real. Tell me what to do when times get tough. Tell me how to cope without you.”
I Miss My Mother
On autopilot for all those months, I think that if I had stopped to think of what I was juggling, and what I was witnessing, I would have crawled into bed and not gotten out...
The Things My Mother Loved
Emotion and life were not part of the gray house on Andrew Avenue. Yes, there were four people living there, ostensibly a family. In reality, just four people sharing two bathrooms . . .
An Everlasting Gift
I thought about what my daughter said and realized that, no, I was not my mother, but I was so happy to become like her. By emulating her, I was keeping her close to me . . .
As If I Loved Her
I would become the mother I never had. I would heal by giving and by being generous. I would heal by being positive, optimistic and uncritical.
A Letter from a Teen to Her Mom
I sat and waited. I hoped that you wouldn’t ignore my absence. I hoped that you wouldn’t be afraid of me—your daughter, your own flesh and blood, your baby who only sixteen years ago emerged from your womb.
Being Adults in Our Parents’ Eyes
My mom was acting like she had solved all my problems, but I was fuming inside. As long as I can remember, I’ve felt like a child around my mother...
Between Two Worlds
Caring for My Mother
Health crises, doctor’s visits, additional hospitalizations and a few prayers later, I was faced with another life-changing decision. Reflection and critical, painfully honest self-examination led me to choose, once again, the most logical path to take next . . .
My Father's Tzitzit
After all, what could he teach a girl who got straight A’s in school and wanted to go to an Ivy League college? And yet, today, what I remember from college seems like a blur of intellectual trivia compared to the simple lessons of my father . . .
Kneading Mom's Love
Everlasting Lessons from a Life Cut Short
When Mom was diagnosed with Cancer, it never occurred to any of us that she wouldn’t get better. There was no one more vibrant, more alive, than she; surely she would just power through her treatment and move on with the same aplomb she’d shown juggling the demands of four children or throwing together a banquet on a moment’s notice…
Writing My Mother's Story
Glimpsing a Vanished World
I thought of her manuscript often and with so much pain of loss I could not bear to open the manila envelope and see her writing on the pages. It lay in a drawer gathering importance, and waiting for me...
When and Where?
Refusing to Lose my Mother to Alzheimer's
There are moments when she is very happy. She is happy in her spacious rooms, happy for the companionship. She calls me Mother now...
The Gift of the Present
In 1950, my father passed away, but I didn't know about it until the morning of the funeral. I woke up all excited because not only was it my elementary school graduation, but I was supposed to sing a lullaby that I had composed and written myself...
Walking Mom Home
There was no way I was going to be able to deal with the totality of the situation all at once. I couldn't come to grips with the loss while she was still here. That was too much to ask of myself. I had to stay in the moment, to appreciate every second I still had with her. There would be time later, when it was reality, to face the loss...
Ilona Bleier Roozman
My Mother's Eyes
The memories of my mother when she was young, strong and fearless are fading. I'm struggling to remember the spark - a fierceness and Herculean strength emanating from her all knowing eyes...
A Daughter of Holocaust Survivors
Looking back on my 58 years as a second generation Holocaust survivor, I am struck by the powerful truth once written by the author William Faulkner "The past is not dead. In fact, it's not even past." He was and is still so very right...
My Mother’s Keychain
The years have passed, and life has changed quite a bit. But the tangible piece of her sits in my purse, and the emotional one sits in my heart. She is still here. I see her in the day-to-day events that go by...
Mommy, Will You Ever Understand?
When A Child Takes A Different Path
If only I understood back then what I'm beginning to understand now, I would have saved myself many fights and arguments. If only I knew that the biggest fear my mother had, or has, is of losing me to some unknown...
Rochel Roth
Yitzchak, so grateful for the wife he was bestowed, nominated her for this distinction. "When you have little to give, but don't stop giving, that's special. And that's my wife."
My Mother, My Child
I am a mother. I'm just a different kind of mother. I did not give birth to my child. She was not young in age, but was nevertheless someone who needed to be mothered...
The Ability To Love
A Tribute to My Father
I have lost someone who loved me. The thought takes my breath away. I watch the dirt fall onto the plain wooden coffin, and I know that my father's body is in that box...
A Lesson from My Mother
didn't really understand just then, as my brain was still foggy from my nap, but the one thing I did understand was that something had happened to Mommy, and she wasn't there...
The Survivor In All Of Us
She had kept her age from me all this time and unexpectedly revealed a part of herself which was no longer a taboo subject. It's as if she wanted me to know that she was old and vulnerable now...
Caregiving Our Parents
As recently as ten years ago, when I was still working as a geriatric social worker, I never imagined myself as a full time caregiver...
Mama's Home
There is little more painful than having to step up and watch the helplessness and anxiety of a surviving elderly parent...
The Smile You Put on for Those You Love
“You’re a wonderful person,” he states, matter-of-factly. His serene face portrays no emotion, but his eyes smile when he utters the words. I know he is sincere, yet at this moment I’m not quite ready to believe him. He is a rabbi, I am my mother’s caregiver, and I have come to see him for spiritual guidance.
A Night With My Mother
Six Years After Her Death
Sitting next to my mother, I realized that no matter how long your life is, it's never long enough to learn all that you need to know...
The Third Generation
The elderly woman
sat by herself
for the phone to ring
Surviving My Mother’s Illness
This was my mother? My mother, the college professor? The valedictorian of her class? . . . I told the nurses what had transpired, and with understanding looks they explained that this type of mental deterioration was not uncommon for people with end-stage cancer.
The Miracle Woman
Reflections on My Mother's Yahrtzeit
The doctors and nurses began referring to her as the Miracle Woman, so taken by her history of withstanding so many battles one after another. It struck me how tenacious her grip on life was, how unwilling she was to surrender against all odds...
A Father's Gift
Bennie's memorabilia, cherished pieces of his life, remain hidden in a large container, reminders of another time, an era when handshakes sealed a business deal, when families gathered around the table sharing laughter and funny stories, when letters were handwritten...
We've Got Extra Time
Life After My Father's Heart Attack
So here I am, alone this hour, looking at you, Dad. I smile. You smile back. I stroke your hand, running my fingers over your big blue veins, and feel the gift that you are to me- more than ever...
5 Ways My Mother Made Me Love Being Jewish
I learned that Judaism has beautiful traditions that comfort and aide us when we’re in pain, and also when we experience joy. I saw up close that it’s possible to live a Jewish life.
What You Can Do for Your Elderly Parents
By including the nursing assistants in the culture of the residents, I showed that their work was important, appreciated and valued.
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