The candle is burning today in memory of my mother in law; Faygiah Chava known to all as Phyllis. Twenty one years ago today she died after a three year battle with cancer. We miss her. Her humor, love, concern and care are few of the traits that I loved about her.
Now that I have son-in-laws (and I hope soon I should be able to add to the list; daughter-in-laws) I try to use her as my role model. Faygaih Chava made me feel welcomed. She would defend me to my new young husband; always taking my side. Only my sister-in-law (her only daughter; Elizabeth) captures the same unique humor of Phyllis and continues that specialty that warms and delights all that are near to them.
I remember 21 years ago, Yaacov (my almost 22 year old son) was my baby when I last saw her. She came to Israel during the summer for a visit. We took a trip to Tzfat (where my 2nd daughter, Yochana, decided to make her home). My mother in law was real trooper. We hiked, traveled and visited spots which until today I remember as very special. Even though we visit those places again – nothing holds the mystique and wonderment as when we were with her.
She got sick while she was with us. Her head started hurting and she had to take time off from our daily trips. My brother-in-law, Jeff who is an oncologist knew right away what it meant, but we didn’t. We were just happy when she felt she could join us. I wondered if the young children (5 at that time) were too much for her. But it was obvious she loved being with them.
As my in-laws left that trip, I felt a void fill my heart. I knew instinctively, it would be the last time I would see her. The cancer came back fully. January she called. With the brain cancer stealing the words from her mouth she asked for Reuven, my husband, her first born, to come. She held on until she could say goodbye to him.
As she slept unconsciously nearby, the family sat continuously at her bedside the week enjoying each other’s company and reminiscing. The next week they sat in the house in shiva together with her friends and relatives coming by.
She had loved her family. And the family loved and remembers her.
(Picture is all (except for one baby and one on the way) of her family of today.)