The Tovsky Tribe

Chocolates, Cocktails, Friends, Babies...A Girl Should Never Have Just ONE!!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Beyond Measure!

I lost my last grandparent when I was 17 years old.  As a punishment for being an obnoxious, whiney, self-centered teen I was the finder of my Pop-Pop's still body.   Elvis style.   I probably needed more therapy than I had (none) since I still fear that the elderly will drop dead in front of me.  But, I do like to believe that that was his way of saying "Hey kid, kids will be kids, I know that.  And, old people will be old people.  You can't choose when or how you die.  Are we even?"

Um, yeah sure, I guess!!!

I never was fortunate enough to have four grandparents.    And, both of my grandmothers died before I hit double-digits.  This is the price you pay for being the youngest grandchild on both sides.  Spoiled rotten youngest, they say?  But there's the flip side to that coin.

My kids are very fortunate.   They have four grandparents and a great-grandmother.  A great-grandmother who puts more than generational separation into the word great.  Sadly, we lost her today.

Celebrating Mom-Mom's 90th birthday with wonderful family!
Mom-Mom and 3 of her 5 grandsons!
Mom-Mom and her only grand-daughter!

Todd's grandmother, Mom-Mom to us, Bubbie Evey to our boys, passed away earlier this evening.   This death, though expected, is sad and painful and will leave all us feeling the loss forever.  But, her life is not one to mourn, instead to praise.  She was 93 years old .  She had been widowed for over 15 years.  She was, basically, healthy right up until the end.  She had overcome broken hips, broken elbows, and overall old age.  Even in the end a massive stroke was not enough to take her down without a fight.
These last couple of weeks of Mom-Mom's life were nothing short of incredible. In the 16 days since her devastating stroke, in the 10 days she had survived without IV, in the three days she survived with labored breathing, words like amazing, incredible, and unbelievable were used to describe her overcoming of the odds. And, as we used these words to describe her end it dawned on me: What kind of life had she lived, what words of greatness can we possibly use to describe her life if her end, her end, was just that.....UNBELIEVABLE.

Todd's last visit with his beloved Mom-Mom (and Aunt Bonnie, too!!)

I remember when Todd first took me to meet her.  I was so nervous.  Mostly because, as I mentioned above, I have a fear of elders dropping dead on me, but also because she was his Mom-Mom and he could not mention her name without baring his dimples.
He told, and retold, so many of his favorite stories of her, and his Pop-Pop Leo, stories that were not so different from the ones I remembered with my grandparents, and that always warmed my heart.
When I did meet her, all of my nerves went away.  We just chatted, and played Rumikub, and looked through her old recipes.  She told me the stories Todd already knew, like how Pop-Pop Leo (whom I never had the fortune of meeting) was really her cousin.  This astonished me.  I was happy I chose a non-cousin in Todd, then wondered if, by chance, he was my distant cousin.  We do have the same eye color?!?!
I wonder how to explain this passing to the boys.  I am not sure if I will find the right words, the right explanations.   They think death happens when you turn 100.  I guess Mom-Mom got closer than most of us ever will. Although Bubbie Evey was not in their everyday lives, they do remember visiting her in Florida, they know her by name and by sight, and they enjoyed talking to her on the phone weekly.
"Which one am I talking to?" She would ask and they would, each, SCREAM their name when it was their turn as if turning up the volume made it all that more clear to her.  Turner never met Mom-Mom.  By the time he was born she was unable to travel.  Mom-Mom lovingly referred to him as either "the baby" or as "TL" but would not, could not, call him Turner.  A name, I am sure, she could not fathom being her great-grandson's first name.  But, she saw his pictures and heard his voice and he attempted at saying Bubbie Evey in such an adorable way that I wanted him to repeat it again and again.  She will get to know him now, from heaven, Chase and Ryder, too.  Boy will she ever be so proud!!

When we were coming up with a name for our yet-to-be-born third child I had mentioned naming in honor of Mom-Mom.  Todd was not sure he was comfortable doing that, as he had always named for the no longer living.  So instead, we named Turner for our beloved deceased and honored Mom-Mom by using a hebrew name that meant, simply, "LION." I am thrilled that he can represent her "Lyons" name with his charm and his smile and may he live the long, wonderful life that she, clearly, did.

Death never comes easy to the living left behind.  A void is felt and not easily filled.  I think Todd is so very lucky.  His Mom-Mom lived long enough and healthy enough to see him get married.  She has been to both of his homes despite the fact that she lived in Florida.  She met two of his children and knew of, saw pictures of, spoke on the phone with his third.  He knew her, he remembers times they had together, and he can retell so many of the stories.  Yes, I would say Todd is lucky!

When my grandfather passed away and we attended the funeral I would not look at the open casket.  My parents wanted me to, they felt that seeing him looking peaceful and at rest may be a better final image than the one I had.   I agreed to try as I held my brother's hand and slowly walked his way.  The minute my eyes caught the top of his bald head I sprinted in the other direction.   I never did look at him again.
It's true.  I remember the day I found him more clearly than I would like.  I have a feeling that the friends that were in my house (who I made confirm what I had been denying) remember it clearly too.  But, that is not what I remember the most.  At the funeral, while I listened to the beautiful words spoken of my Pop-Pop, I painted a picture in my mind.  One that is so vivid in my mind today that it may as well be hanging on my wall.  I pictured Pop-Pop as a spirit, yet you could still see him, wearing his favorite bow-tie, wearing his favorite hat, dancing, the way he loved to, his way up to heaven.  Waiting for him were my Mom-Mom, holding my Uncle Carl.  She smiled when she saw him and he did in return.  And her words were simple, "Morris, We've been waiting for you!"
I loved that mind painting, I still do.  It comforted me in my time of my need.

I hope for all of the family, the daughters, the grandchildren, the nieces, nephews, and great-grandchildren, that they too can find faith in whatever it is that helps mend their hearts.   I hope they tattoo on their memories the best of times, the 93 years of living, the 35 years (and more) the grandkids had with her, the 4 years my own children had with her.  Not everyone gets lucky enough to have all of those years, and all of those stories.

Mom-Mom, you will be missed everyday, but also happily remembered.  You were certainly, and as you always said, loved beyond measure.


Jill said...

Wendy, your words touched my heart to the core. I too am grateful my mother got to walk down the aisle at your wedding to her grandson, and to have Chase and Ryder, her great grandsons, celebrate her 90th birthday. I am sorry she never got the opportunity to meet Turner,but at least she was kept up to date with pictures, and sound of his voice. thank you for the wonder words and loving thoughts you have expressed.
I know she loved you as well, and was thrilled with the beautiful young woman he chose to be his wife.
I love you.

Hank Fieger said...

Hank Fieger said...

Thanks, Wendy, for your beautiful words about my Aunt Evelyn. I think that we forget that death is part of the wonderful cycle of birth, life, and death, and that we can choose to celebrate each of those stages. Your words are a celebration of my wonderful, loving, Aunt's life. I'm grateful to have been loved by her and to have known her.

Thanks again for your words at this time. I know her entire family appreciates them.

With love and gratitude,


James Fieger said...

Beautiful words and matching pictures that so poignantly drew on your memories of Evelyn Lyons, great-grandmother, grandmother, mother, aunt, sister, and friend.

I recently told my cousins Bonnie and Jill how their mother’s love is indelibly imprinted on my psyche and memory from childhood. To this day, I can vividly remember the joyous feelings of arriving at their home in Philly after a long (back then it seemed like a cross country trip!) journey from Long Island to the smile and embrace of my Aunt Evelyn; I know my brother and sister had the same experience.

I am fortunate to have been able to tell her directly how much I appreciate her for giving me a role-modeled example of such warmth and love. As I was in my “formative” years, I truly believe her gift has provided me a tool to share that kind of love with my own children, as well as others.

That feeling never waned and even during some “wild” period in my youth, it was a short motorcycle ride from Miami to Deerfield Beach to get another dose of her love, not to mention her great cooking!

To this day, I can remember her laugh and sweet energy as she frequently re-counted a story of seeing me skate on my ankles as a 10 year old on a frozen pond near their house in Philadelphia. I know my cousins will smile when they think of her sharing that story.

While I will miss her very much, the law of life calls for beginnings and ends; she’s left with me with a smile and a warm place in my heart. God rest your soul, Aunt Evelyn.

elizabeth said...

Wendy, I can not leave this web site without saying to you that this is truly amazing. What you wrote and how you feel is a real tribute to this amazing woman. She is leaving a legacy to this wonderful family and I am so happy to have met her briefly at your wedding to Todd. Having lost a loving and devoted mother I feel the pain that Jill, her sister and all the grandchildren and extended family is feeling at this time. Let her sole rest in peace and let her passing be for a blessing. Again you are amazing for what you did for this beautiful lady and the entire family. My love to all, Liz Baim

Jaime said...

Wendy, thanks you for the addition of this beautiful entry to your already fullfilling blog. Your empathy, sympathy, and everlasting love has shined through. And, as I fought back the tears while reading yours, I was unable to do so by the time I was half way through James's words.
Unfortunately, there is nothing I can say to describe my feeling toward my grandmother that will even come close to the feeling I have felt, cultivated, and will forever be engraved in my heart. What I can tell you, and all our family and friends, is that she knew how to love and she also knew how express it. And, all her loved ones felt it individually in our own way. That's a lover, that's a special person...