I’m not sure what kind of role I play in your online life, so I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but I’ve been away for a while.
I’ve had to reprioritize.
A few months ago, my mother, Martha Widawer, was diagnosed with a metastasis of a kidney cancer she originally had five years ago. Back then, her kidney was removed and we thought the cancer was gone. When the scans in May showed spots, she knew it was bad.
My sisters and I have been caring for her.
She passed away Saturday night, surrounded by me, my two sisters, several of her grandchildren, her sister Betsy, and my mother’s long-time loving companion Sam.
Her funeral was Tuesday.
I loved my mother deeply and if you have a moment, I’d love for you to know a little about her, and learn what a wonderful, smart, warm, generous and funny person she was. If you’d care to read the Eulogy that I wrote and read for her at her service, you’ll find below.
One other thing…
Cancer is a killer that causes immeasurable pain and suffering. I’ve now lost both my parents, my Aunt Eva and Uncle Eddie, Uncle Carl, Cousin Kenny, Aunt Lilo, and Cousin Alexis to different kinds of cancer. And cancer nearly claimed my wonderful Auntie Betsy. Please support the fight against cancer by making a donation in our mother’s name, Martha Widawer, or the name of someone you love, to this aggressive cancer research foundation:
Click here: Phase One Foundation
When you make a donation online, which can be as little as $10, please ask the system to send a note to me at this address: formartha (at) westhillsweb.com).
I am grateful to you.
P.S. I’ll be easing back into helping you succeed with your online business next week some time. My world is a bit upside down at the moment, and I’ll be busy settling her affairs for many months or longer. I appreciate your patience and support.
My Mother, Martha S. Widawer, Ph.D.
I think the most wonderful thing you’ve ever said to me, besides the I Love You’s I got every day, was something you said about 3 weeks ago. You said that I got the best parts of you, and the best parts of dad.
Thank you so very much for giving me so many of the best parts of you. I hope I can live up to the legacy that you’ve created.
You are generous beyond compare. I always found it hard to outright ask you for something, but your strong intuition allowed you to read me like a book, and know what I wanted or needed without my asking.
And maybe my occasional hints helped, too.
But that’s not really the point, because when any of your children or grandchildren needed or wanted something, it created a real, physical pain in you that could only be cured by giving.
And it wasn’t always the giving of things, but the giving of stories, of wisdom, or time, of experience, or your presence.
Or most preciously, your hugs and kisses.
You showered my children with love and affection, even when they were stricken with the childhood shyness that I must have passed down to them. And you were so proud, OH SO PROUD of them all.
I know that our more conservative religious practices often perplexed you, but I think that they meant the world to you when you saw what they created. You kvelled at Bradley’s Bar Mitzvah — he did so well! I’m so, so sad that you won’t be kvelling with us here on Earth for Hannah and Max’s coming of age.
Hannah said to me in the car the other night that she is sad about that, too. She wanted you there at her Bat Mitzvah.
As her Bat Mitzvah project, Hannah had already planned to donate her long hair to Locks of Love, a charity that makes wigs for victims of cancer. Her donation will now be doubly meaningful since it will be in your memory.
Today, as this room is filled with your friends and relatives, I am thinking about one of your greatest joys — when we would all get together as a family. You always encouraged us to be together, and to make memories together. When I was younger, I had a hard time doing that. Now, it’s much easier, and just part of my life.
And it’s the sweetest part of life. I learned that from you.
It makes days like this much more bearable.
So I promise that we’ll continue to be together, even though the center of our family, the middle of all our world, is now missing. But you left a gravity behind that will bind us, and keep us together, close, and warm, thinking of you.
I promise, in your honor.
I also want to thank you for the relationship you created with Marlene. You so often treated her like one of your own, showering her with affection and love. And I am particularly thankful that you have shared your recipes with her — recipes that I grew up with, that I love so much. She’s turned into quite the cook, because of your inspiration and teaching.
Through your food, you will be with us forever.
Thank you, Mom, for bringing your lovely Sam into our lives. For the last 18 years, Sam became part of our family. A kinder and gentler man you’ll never meet. And a man that we’ve long ago adopted as our "Poppa Sam".
Thank you, Sam, for taking such wonderful care of my mother. I promise we’ll take excellent care of you, too.
I’ve got to tell you, Mom, that one of your last acts may turn out to be one of your most precious and memorable to me. During the last months of your life, your little puppy Sasha was by your side, bringing you joy in the face of sadness, energy as you became weaker, and a wagging tail and a licking tongue to take away your own aches and pains.
It means so very much that you’ve asked me to take care of Sasha for you. I truly feel as though she’s a little bit of you that you’ve left with us. I can’t tell you how much comfort she’s already given us. And how much my whole family loves her. She’s so very YOU, Mom.
You’ve taught me many things, mom. And one of them was to laugh.
Now, you made us all promise not to tell jokes on this day, so we won’t. But we can’t tell your story without including so many parts that made us smile…occasionally on purpose. Often accidentally.
" Like the time you and I coincidentally ended up at the very same place, and as we were walking out you asked "are you parked where I’m parked?" as though I had ESP or a spy camera.
" Or the time when you went to a restaurant with Michelle, and after looking at the menu you commented, "I wonder what local salad dressing tastes like." Of course, what it reall said was "low cal".
" Having learned your lesson about "low cal" foods, how about that time up in San Luis Obispo when you asked about the "low cal" fish that were caught just off the pier. The sign actually said, "local".
" Michelle likes to tell the story about when you asked her for a paper bag. "What kind of paper bag?" Michelle asked. And you said "The plastic kind."
" And on Sam’s 83rd birthday, we had bought these candles in the shape of a number 8 and a number 3. You looked at the candles on the cake and said the numbers were upside down.
" Or the time I called you on your cell phone and asked "where are you?", and you said you were at Costco. Okay, that’s not so funny because you were always at Costco.
" But it was funny when you called me on my home phone, and you asked "Where are YOU?" I was at home, Mom.
Mom, you gave us endless joy, whether you meant to, or not, and we’ll always talk about your hundreds of Martha-isms to bring us up when we’re feeling down.
The ultimate Martha-ism, of course, is Costco. Costco is such a big part of you that we were going to make it a part of your final resting place. You might not have known this, but Costco sells caskets.
That simple fact made us all laugh out loud.
How perfect would it be to send you on your way in your own private little Costco. It didn’t work out though — unlike the hot dogs there, the caskets aren’t kosher.
But you should be comforted to know that you paid for part of today’s expenses with your Costco Amex card.
You taught me a lot, mom. But I’ve got a feeling that the biggest lessons you’ve taught me won’t become apparent until much later in my life.
You’re a gift that will keep on giving.
And I am hoping, Mom, that your many friends and relatives here will tell us all about their own stories of you, and the Martha-isms that they know about first-hand. I am certain there is much that I do not know.
Before I end this letter to you, Mom, I want to publicly thank Marla. You gave your children all we could ever ask for and never asked a thing in return.
But Marla, in particular, gave you back 100-fold in your final days. Maybe 1000-fold.
She was by your side every day and every night during every hospital stay, at every chemotherapy appointment, and every radiation appointment, except for one when her own baby boy was ill, and needed her too.
Marla waited on you hand and foot, attended to your every need, was your advocate with the doctors and nurses, and your guardian and watchdog every step of the way.
Your baby girl would not leave your side.
Marla was a superstar and your own personal angel, and I’m indebted to her forever for the care she gave you. I want the world to know.
She’s quite a woman. And so is Michelle. The two of us followed Marla’s lead in caring for you these last few months.
You’ve given a lot to all three of us, and all eight of your granchildren. You’ve given us a lifetime of happiness, generosity, security, and love.
And that’s why it hurts so bad today, Mom, to not have you here with us, to not know your touch, your kiss, your hug.
Mom, if you must know, it only hurts so bad, now that you’re gone, because it felt so, so good when you were here.
We’ll miss you. I’ll miss you, more than you can ever know.
Mom, I hope one day to be parked where you’re parked. Until that day…
I Love you more today than yesterday.
Note to my readers: If this letter has touched you in any way, or if you’ve at all benefited by something you’ve ever read on my blog or in my products, if you have a friend or loved one who is suffering from cancer, or who was taken from you by cancer, please make a donation today to help fight cancer today.
Cancer is a bitch. We need it gone.
We’ve found that this organization, which my cousin Lenny is involved in, is creating cancer miracles.
When you make a donation online, which can be as little as $10, please ask the system to send a note to me at this address: formartha (at) westhillsweb.com.