Where do I begin my story—from my very distant recollection of my childhood as far back as my memory will take me, or from the time that my dear mother passed away at ninety-three years of age?

The menorah on her kitchen table, the Shabbat candles, the black lace doily she wore on her head and the tan colored, frayed prayer book she held in her hands—the aura around her was mystifying as she stood so straight and tall to recite the prayers to welcome in Shabbat.

The aura around her was mystifying Week after week, year after year, decade after decade, I watched this enchanting ceremony, never allowing myself to imagine my mother not being there to kindle the lights. How quickly the years passed. What I thought would never end was ending.

She knew her journey in the physical world was fading. As the last few months of her life passed, I would help her walk from the living room to the kitchen and listen to her soft voice recite the awe-inspiring Hebrew prayers. Standing beside her, I steadied her with the help of her walker as she would look up at me and invariably point out the page from which she was reciting the prayers. I realized how frail she was becoming, now requiring my assistance: standing behind her with my hands on her waist to support her so she could continue to stand tall and welcome in the Shabbat.

Each Sabbath seemed to pass more quickly than the preceding one. I knew that each week I had the privilege of listening to her pray was another blessing granted to me. I wanted to hang on forever to each word she chanted. Then one Friday evening came, and as she sat in her living room chair she reminded me that sunset was nearing, it was getting time for me to light the candles.

Honored to stand where she stood every Friday night, week after week, year after year and decade after decade, I recited the soulful prayers she had said so many times. I wanted so badly to hear her voice, but instead heard mine in its place. My heart was broken. I knew she was weak and tired and ready to move on, for nothing had ever stood in the way of her welcoming the Shabbat Queen.

On a warm spring morning, April 23, 2007, she passed away in the comfort of her cherished home. She lay close to the menorah that she had lit for seventy-three years. Heartbroken for my loss, I abandoned her most cherished menorah. I wanted to stop time. If I left the menorah as it was, never to be lit again, the warm lights of Chanukah and Shabbat, along with her spirit, would remain locked in my heart forever. And so, that is how it remained for over two years.

I understood how proud my mother must have beenIn the spring of 2009, an invitation came to me from two beautiful spiritual people, Rabbi and Devora Green. They invited me to attend an evening of song and dance for Jewish women in honor of their daughter Chaya's Bat Mitzvah. While watching the events of the evening, I reminisced of days I spent with my beloved mother. I listened to Devora, a young, wonderful mother of seven children, and Chaya, just starting out on the road of womanhood.

They inspired me and my soul was rekindled. It was then that I understood how proud my mother must have been when she asked me to light the Shabbat candles in her place. The abandoned menorah on her kitchen table, the black lace doily she wore on her head, and the tan colored, frayed prayer book she held in her hands were brought back to life.

In memory of my beloved mother, Ida Slarskey and my kind and gentle father, Louis Slarskey; and in dedication to Rabbi Green and his wife Devora who inspired me to write this tribute.