January 15, 2014

Faith, Family, Friends and Community...

Happy New Year.  This blog will be back to once a week (if not more) now that my dissertation is complete.  Thank you for your patience, and words of encouragement...

I want to take this first blog of 2014 to honor my best friend’s mom (who is like a 2nd mom to me) by writing a new year’s letter like she would have written:

My best friend’s mom was brilliant.
Sunset over Key Biscayne

Dear Marlene,

I know for those of us on the outside, the last few years as your son and brother eulogized have been “unfair.” However, in your own wonderful way you provided us with your last lesson on how to live, how to continue to learn and love, how to continue to treat people with compassion and understanding despite our own trials, and now, how to make your transition with dignity and grace.  I am so sorry we didn’t get to have one more conversation, but just knowing you knew I finished my dissertation and am on my way to becoming a good father brings tears to my eyes (even as I write this now). I know your mouth dropped knowing that little Stuart is now Dr. Rhoden, but I hope you know that you and Harold helped make that possible.  Thank you for not only helping me to learn how to do dishes (smile) but also how to keep pushing forward when things aren’t as linear as one wants them to be.  I promise to honor your memory and Harold’s by being not just the best educator, but also the best mentor, father and friend as I can be.

You also have helped renew, or remind me about the importance of community.  Family is of critical importance, and in the coming year(s) I promise to keep working to do the best I can as I face the immortality of my elderly family members, help my son to continue to grow into a young man/man, and maintain my faith in God’s will. However, in your passing, you have once again brought to the forefront the importance of treating everyone (from those asking for change outside 57th street books, to Deans and leaders) with the same respect.  Your Funeral and Shiva brought together various generations, genders and groups from not Hyde Park but across the country.  Being in their company was an honor, and we all have you to thank.  As I sat there watching person after person eulogize you, I was in joy, tears and laughter knowing that the way you were with me (patient, understanding, direct, kind, compassionate) was exactly the way you were with everyone.  I cannot promise that I can live up to that standard, but I will do my best.

Finally, upon learning of your passing a week ago, I was overcome with emotion and grief.  Your two sons helped me understand that while it is OK to grieve, I saw the enormous strength of you and Harold’s and am positive your light will continue to live on through them.  I am, as I have always been for almost 35 years, humbled by being not just their friend but “family.”  

Thank you Marlene.  Thank you for being a teacher, mentor, and mother.  Thank you for helping to raise me and provide me with excellent examples of what it means to be a person of intellect, civic minded and family oriented.  My mother thanks you for keeping me safe and for treating me as a third son (and for all the food you provided over the years). 

You are now at peace, reunited with Harold forever.  I know one day I will see you again.  Until then, I will do my best to honor the legacy you have given not just your son’s but to everyone who had the blessing of being in your presence.

May there be abundant peace from Heaven, and good life, satisfaction, help, comfort, refuge, healing, redemption, forgiveness, atonement, relief and salvation for us and for all His people [upon us and upon all] Israel, and say, Amen.


No comments:

Post a Comment