The following is a reprint from the March 2, 2017 issue in honor of the author’s mother’s yartzeit (anniversary of her passing).
She was a unique personality, larger than life. She loved people and cared about them and made them the center of her universe. She filled up a room in a way that no one else could.
She was Roslyn Shor and she was my mother.
I see her now in my memories, frozen in time: strong and vibrant and full of life, before cancer took her from us just two days after her 65th birthday. Because my mother was also a native Washingtonian and this column is about stories, I think the best way to pay tribute to my mother is to share some vignettes about her that will give you a glimpse into who she was.
Once when I was a kid, I caused some trouble in school and she had to go in for a conference. She told the teacher, “Honey, when he misbehaves at home, I don’t call you!” She wasn’t going to let that teacher talk bad about her Larry!
She loved her life-long shul — Beth Sholom Congregation, originally located in Washington, D.C., and later in Potomac, Maryland — and listening to its great cantors. The rabbis were her friends. When I was to be bar mitzvahed, she called the rabbi of the shul, Rabbi Harry Kaufman, and told him to come to the family photo shoot so that he could take a picture with me and I would always remember him. I still have it today!
When I was a teenager, my aunt and uncle separated. Mom had a wall of about 40 family pictures in the living room. She took down their picture and in its place hung a picture of Redskins coach George Allen — that way no one in the family was offended.
She had crazy nicknames for people, and they liked them! Only when she called you by your real name did you know that you were in trouble.
When my Dad had health issues and had to have serious surgery, someone suggested to Mom that it was “routine.” Mom told her, “Routine, honey, is when it ain’t yours laying there.”
She made a least six shidduchim (matches) that I know of, based on the reasoning “they go together.” For close to 40 years, she made two seders every year for 30 or 40 people to make sure everyone had a place to go.
My younger sister Mindy had special needs at a time no such resources existed and the general attitude was “put her away.” Mom never put anyone in her life away, much less her daughter, and eventually found the right place for her.
Mom loved Shari, my wife, and always took her side. Once, Shari and I were going to buy a dining room table and chairs, and I said I didn’t like them. I got a phone call a few minutes later — Mom told me that I loved the table and to tell Shari so immediately!
One last story: When I was a teenager, we always went to Katz’s at Four Corners in Silver Spring, Maryland. In front of the store were three or four tables with the bubbies selling raffle tickets to Hadassah and other organizations, and boy did they used to compete!
One day, Mom gives me a dollar and I pick out a table. The lady at the other table says, “Mamaleh, see that lady? Her ticket, no good. Never win.” The other lady overhears her and screams at her in Yiddish, “Macha-shaifah, vus redst du di kind!” (Witch, what are you telling the child!) Seeing the situation, Mom gives me more money and has me buy one from every lady. And guess what? None of them win!
But I won, because Roz Shor was my mother. May her memory always be for a blessing.
NEXT TIME: A Master at a Master’s Art
By Larry Shor