Thursday, November 24, 2011

Oh Happy Day

On day in 1965, during one of the many tussles I had with my sister, Louise, I struck a rare blow and, shortly after that, she landed in Beth Israel Hospital (our hospital of choice where my broken arm got set and where my mother, Florence visited frequently until the night she died).

Years later, in fact two weeks ago, I found this drawing I had made commemorating both the Thanksgiving holiday and my sister's recovery from spinal meningitis. Perhaps I was genuinely thankful. Perhaps I was greatly relieved I hadn't killed her and was now reprieved from a life burdened with a horrible secret and crushing guilt. Either way, I was clearly glad to give thanks.

Florence's mother, Sophie told me one day to always say 'I'm sorry' first. I did for years until it became detrimental to my health to believe I was always wrong and beholden to make things right, regardless of the circumstance.

I always thought 'I love you' was the most important sentence in the world, probably because I heard so little of it. I did many things to say that sentence and I did more things hoping it would be said. Those words, important as they may be, were at times just words without action.

It was, when forced to heal from too many 'I'm sorry' and 'I love you' that shouldn't have been said, that I learned how to say 'thank you' to everything. With every statement of gratitude I grew back my sense of self. 'Thank you' became my fountain of youth, richness, and joy.

The night Florence died at Beth Israel the words I said most were "thank you". Perhaps if I had drawn a picture of that night it would look exactly like the one I drew for my sister so many years before, only with more machinery around the hospital bed and without my dad.

Thanksgiving 2011 - November 24th would have been Florence's 87th or 88th birthday. I was privileged to join her on her journey to her end and somehow along the way I got to love her and be loved by her in ways I could have never imagined.

Since then, I have survived these past years because of the varied gifts she had bestowed upon me, both tangible and intangible, least of all this blog of stories about the City she and I love with all our hearts and souls, and every bit of our passion and our art. For that and for everything I am truly thankful.

So Florence Deutsch Moed, Happy Birthday and Happy Thanksgiving.