Rhoda Goldenberg is my sister-in-law and was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer less than three weeks ago. Unfortunately she had little time to ready herself for any upcoming passage she was to take. During the last week before being admitted to a hospice, Rhoda frantically tried to insure that her daughter and granddaughter were cared for without her presence to help guide them. Now, M., her younger brother, as well as her other siblings are working towards a trust for them. At the time of posting she was not expected to live more than one or two days.
You are somewhere in a hospice on the sea, near Boca and most likely you will not be there very long. When I think about it, I should have taken a moment to talk with you when you called to speak to M. Sure I knew you had pancreatic cancer, but I also felt there was time, a few more weeks or months for me to tell you how sorry I am. But that day, I felt I should let M. speak to you. You had a lot to deal with and I quickly handed the phone over to him without taking one short minute to tell you how I feel. A lesson can be learned from handing over the phone so quickly as I did. From now on I need to remember to do what is felt in the heart at the moment you feel it and not leave it for another day!
I want to let you know I was glad to have met you and knowing you has been years of gaining an unusual experience in knowing someone. I want to let you know how wonderful it was when M and I first visited you in Florida. Dinner on the lanai was the best, as the cool evening breezes softly blew across the screened-in patio. We sat there for hours following dinner. The food (made by you and I) was always superb, the wine Sid bought was delicious and yes, watching M. eat the leftovers as we chatted was humorous. Although, it wasn’t just dinner that was great, it was the idea of living near the ocean, being warm in the winter and being with someone that made me welcome and wanted.
During the past thirty-five years since we met, much has happened to our two families. Your Mother and my Father have died. We each have gained and lost more pounds over the years than most people can. We have shared many Seders, some with you present, but we haven’t seen each other for many, many years. I know I couldn’t go to your wedding to Sid, nor has there been any time in the last decade for a trip to Florida. Yes, we have spoken on the phone many times over the years and I know you quite well through our conversations. I’ve been able to follow your life with Sid, how you raised Ari and all the troubles you continually have caring for Ruth and Sara.
I think the last few years have been the hardest for you as you cared for Sid. But now, Rhoda, in your final days you need the care. Thankfully, you went to the hospice on the sea. I hope your room is balmy and bright with sea breezes that gently blow in the wind. You, or no one deserves this particular, swift end to life. But, it appears that the human body responds correctly, to allow you to move quickly to your destination. I wonder, I hope you had a bit of time to reconcile yourself to your own concluding passage.
But before you leave, dear Rhoda, you should know you will be remembered. To some people the best memories I have are the little ones like the ambiance of your first apartment, the diet muffins you could make so well, your ability to cook with flair, your ease in answering the many questions I had about Seder or other holidays, your knowledge of Hebrew made you my interpreter or translator when I needed to understand a word and lastly, your memory as a store house of family facts.
Now, Rhoda, you are journeying on your the last hours through your final darkness. You have just left the many years you enjoyed within your own Crepusculum (the twilight years of your life) . Thankfully you were able to spend many, many more years in your twilight than others. I am sure that you and I expected you to have many more years ahead, but that is not the case and so I must bid you a fond farewell. I know you will continue to live in the hearts of your sisters and brothers and particularly mine.
To you Rhoda I bid good bye–
To you I will remember the smile on your face–
The shine in your hair–
The quickness of wit in your mind–
Your hands with your rings and the bracelet–
B’ Shalom dear Rhoda! Peace to you!