My Mother

by Leslie

She was funny, she was serious, she was talented, and oh, so smart and beautiful. She grew up in a home where education was valued, but by American standards her parents were uneducated. They spoke English, but could not write or barely read it. They had come from France and Russia (or maybe it was Poland then). My mother, and her brilliant sister, not only read proficiently, but wrote essays – and poetry.

She graduated from college and taught herself about antiques. Always she was enthusiastic in what she did, and shortly our basement flat, and thence our larger apartment, were overrun by her “finds.” A tiny shop ensued, “Beatrice’s Bee-Hive,” indeed a mecca for antiques, advice and all that she had to give.

But education beckoned and back to school she went. She became a teacher in the poorest of poor neighborhoods in New York City – Harlem. Her classroom was windowless, a room in a converted bowling alley. She taught, inspired and guided her fifth graders to things greater than whence they came. They loved her, they worked for her, and they often succeeded.

So did her children – one becoming an editor and the other a pediatrician-teacher. Always to be encouraged by the presence of a woman, an amazing woman, whom they were lucky enough to call “mother.”

Sept 2012

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