SHIRLEY'S EULOGY (5-2-03)
© 2004 Jordan Margolis
Do you want to know the worst thing that Shirley Marzen ever did to anyone? I know, because she did it to me. A few months after Holly and I became an item, her folks took us out to dinner, and as we were standing around before being seated, Shirley grabbed me by my shirt and and straightened my collar. Sensing my shock, Holly explained, "Don't let it bother you, she really means well. She just wants you to look your best."
So now that you all know the worst about Shirley Marzen; why would a harmlessly nice lady like her, who never did nuttin to nobody her whole life, have to suffer like she did since last September? She didn't deserve it. But it wasn't fate, and it wasn't destiny - she just caught some bad breaks, one after another. In retrospect, Shirley's agonizingly heroic battles this past year, against all odds, personified her staunch determination throughout her long adult life to be there, at all times, for her family.
This morning, let us not dwell on Mother's recent illness but, instead, let's give tribute to her memory as we all remember her - as that diminutive though power-packed energizer bunny of a woman, who never stopped moving. She was always cooking, or sewing, or needlepointing, or power-walking, or shopping and returning, and shopping and returning, or reading and book clubbing, or card playing - gin rummy of course. I can still see her in my kitchen last Rosh Hashana, with her sleeves rolled up, wearing rubber gloves and fighting us off when we tried to get her away from the sink and stop her from washing all the dishes. That's the Shirl we all knew and loved. We'd laugh at her when that little sneak filched dinner rolls from restaurants, table candies from bar mitzvahs, and, of course, her most ambitious heists - the centerpieces from ritzy weddings. Yeah, that's the picture.
Now let's talk fashion. Shirley either liked a look or hated it. Although she could never make a decision about her own wardrobe, she had definite opinions on style. There were no grey areas... no greys, but there was taupe... lot's of taupe. I'd never even heard of taupe before I met Holly's mom. Her fashion sense was impeccable. She had an eye for interior design. So keen, in fact, that I'd often come home and find our art work or furniture rearranged. So I'd say to Holly, "I see your mom was over." And I couldn't even get mad, because I gotta admit now, it always looked better her way.
Shirley Marzen was, quite simply, the perfect lady. She never left the house looking anything less than perfect - hair, makeup, the works. Admirers would comment that she was "well put together". Whenever we're out, I always tell Holly, "You're the prettiest woman in the room". How couldn't she be, she looks just like Shirl.
Making the right appearance was paramount to Shirley. She drilled the daughters and grandchildren, in her Marzen militia, to dress properly and act appropriately on all occasions, so that they could measure up well with others. She was enormously proud of our successes, and even happier about how close and loving the family has remained as it has grown. How about that; all her "Kenna Horahs" actually worked!
In general, Mother was reserved in word. Within the family, she made her opinions known, most often with a shake of her head, a hand wave, or just by making one of her Shirl faces. Her small gestures spoke volumes. Even recently, when she couldn't speak, while lying in her hospital bed, she'd straighten Holly's shirt cuffs, flatten a crease, or shoo her away to go home each night. With every hand squeeze, mother let Sherrie, Robin and Holly know how much she loved them, and how much she treasured the comfort of their presence this painful year. She had taught them well to be tirelessly, nurturing mothers. And this past year, standing by her side, every single day, Shirley's three devoted daughters returned her love. The spiritual power of each of their own small hand gestures at mother's bedside could shake the world.
Almost three years ago, when Hy died, I asked everyone here to promise, on his behalf, to make mother happy and secure. You all did, and we thank you for that. Though we could never have imagined them apart after living over 65 years as a couple, mother made it on her own. Today, and for all eternity, Shirley and Hy Marzen will be back together. Shalom Cemetary doesn't know what's coming. But I wouldn't be surprised if on some quiet star-filled night this summer, a cemetary watchman may suddenly hear Hy's exasperated voice inquiring; "Shirl, would YOU like to tell the story or can l?"
Shirley, Mother, Grams - we couldn't have done it without you. But you can finally stop worrying about us. Your kids are all fine. We love you very much. Now go; dad's waiting for you.
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