By Hagar Ben-Eliezer
September 4, 2015
Jacquelyn Granville Ben-Eliezer passed away September 3, 2011. She waited until a holiday weekend so as to not disturb anyone, and waited until I left her hospital room so I would not witness her last moments. She was always thinking of others.
I was the last of her babies, we fell in love the moment we looked into each other’s blue eyes. My mother was a loud, proud Jewish mother who loved her family and G-d unconditionally. I was awed as a child by her unending love of sitting in shul week after week watching my father lead services –but this is what partnership and a love of fifty years looks like.
We opted for tea parties in my play house and helping with mailings at her B’nai B’rith meetings instead of pre-school. In kindergarten I told all the children Santa Claus did not exist and I knew this for a fact because I was Jewish. All the kids were crying and distraught. When my mother was called in she said, hmm- better they learn it now – .
As a kid I had some health issues that led to hospital stays – My mother slept on a tiny cot next to my bed every night. When I was overcome with social anxiety in the second grade, my mom went against every child psychologist’s advice and for 6 months sat in the back of my classroom so I could look back and see her there while I colored and learned cursive.
My mom passed on to me her sunny disposition, a deep desire to be of service to my community, to stand up for those who cannot and to never apologize for being a proud Zionist.
She told me every day how much she loved me, how proud she was of me and how she admired my successes. My mom loved her “girls” my sister and I. We are only 14 months apart so mom did she did her best to dress us like twins. Always describing us as…“Deborah’s our actress and Hagary’s our athlete…..”
In many ways you really don’t become an adult until your mom dies. My mother’s legacy is deeply embedded in me, but learning to love myself and believe in myself as she did was a lot of work. The last few years have been a journey inspired by my mother to be the person she saw so clearly.
There is a tradition in Judaism when someone dies to stay with or guard the body until their journey is complete. This practice is called Shmira or guarding. I think about this a lot, as it is a big part of my job here at the synagogue to support our community when a death occurs.
My mother was my shmira throughout her entire life. She saw so much in me that I could not, and loved me fiercely, like no one ever will again.
Many days I still pick up the phone to call her- then remember she is gone. But what is not gone is the kindness, compassion, pride and love that she instilled in my heart.
They say that no one truly dies until the last person in the world who knew them; no longer utters their name. By remembering, grieving and sharing memories with friends and family I will continue to keep her memory bright in my life.