Our mom, Lillian May Feldsine passed away on April 24th.
Mom's children were with her at the moment of her passing. Dad was
holding her hand and stroking her arm when she breathed her last breath.
do you write enough words to describe someone as wonderful as our mom?
I’ve known her my whole life, and there are so many things about her
that words won’t do her justice. I met my mom in person March 18, 1956.
It was love before first sight.
before me came our dad. Our parents met after mom graduated from high
school in 1954 in Poughkeepsie, NY. Shortly after graduating, mom
started a short career at IBM in Poughkeepsie. Almost immediately she
met dad, who started at IBM only a couple of weeks earlier. True love
followed and the two were married the following July 27th, 1955, just
about 63 years ago.
Before Dad, mom's
life began quite humbly. When she was around 10 years old, her father
worked at Schatz & Federal Ball Bearing company as a steam-fitter.
After a lengthy strike the family could no longer afford the rent in
their rented house. Mom's father was able to secure work as a plumber /
handyman on a dude ranch that was being remodeled. His pay included a
small salary and access to an old abandoned and dilapidated chicken
coop. Initially they lived in a tent on the property, until with
permission Grandpa used leftovers from the Dude Ranch to make the
chicken coop livable. I think that they got an old wood cooking stove
from the Dude ranch and it provided for cooking as well as heat. Water
came from a nearby creek, being carried in buckets to the tent /
“house”, until a hand well pump was installed, oh and that hand pump was
installed outside. Laundry was washed on a washboard. When they were
living in that cabin / chicken coup, mom and her two siblings and
parents and grandma all slept together to keep each other warm.
These humble beginnings stayed with mom and she was always grateful for everything she had.
Stories of Fun and Making Lifelong Friends
loved to tell stories about her past. She would tell the story of when
she first drove the family car. When mom and her parents would go
shopping, mom asked to hold the keys. When they were done shopping, they
came out and asked her if she knew how to drive the car. She said “oh
yes”, and they let her drive the car home from shopping. She did more of
that later, no permit or license required! As she described getting the
keys from her parents and sitting behind the wheel of the car her face
would beam. She loved telling that story of learning to drive. We have a
video of her telling this story.
also would tell us of when her dad would drive down country roads with
her and her brother sitting on the front fenders of the car bouncing up
and down and screaming for joy.
She also had fond memories of her childhood. Another memory she shared was of the time she and “Aunt“ Jeanette met.
traveled from the boonies as she called it to a place where they would
meet up with another form of transportation like a bus and continue on
to school. Mom describes having the seat next to her available and
Jeanette asking to sit next to her. From that day on they were together.
We have a video of this story too. Their friendship lasted a lifetime.
Mom was unable to write as her Alzheimer's progressed, but my wife Cindy
was able to write down a letter from mom to Jeanette as recently as a
little over a year ago.
is how mom was. She cherished every friendship she had. Another
longtime friend was her best friend Mary Kern whom she retained ties
with till the very end. After mom lost her ability to speak, dad would
call Mary from time to time and tell mom about the conversation.
Ironically, Mary also passed away 10 days after mom.
took time to write / correspond and cared for the friends and family in
her life. She had cards for all occasions not just Christmas. She sent
out cards for Easter, Halloween, St. Patrick’s Day, anniversaries, thank
you's and so on. That showed how much mom cared for people in her life.
Even in small ways she would enjoy each holiday and personal occasion
and use them to stay in touch with family and friends.
Thinking of Others With Foresight
was always on the lookout for gifts for people that showed that she was
always thinking of others even when she was not with them. There was a
box in her room full of presents she had shopped for and was saving for
the right occasion to give the present. She was smart and always
prepared ahead of time for everything.
Mom cared about
people and one of the ways she showed appreciation was when visiting
someone who had given her gifts of clothing or jewelry, she would wear
that clothing or jewelry to show appreciation when visiting those who
had given them to her.
to mom being prepared for everything, it's a good thing she was always
prepared for whatever was ahead, because after I was born, along came
Marjorie a couple years later. Mom described Margie as willing to go
outside and get her hands dirty making mud pies and not being bothered
by the mess. Stan on the other hand had to clean his hands as soon as
they got dirty.
dad wanted one more kid to make an odd number of kids after Margie was
born so mom got pregnant and surprise! There were two more! Lorraine and
Mary were born. Now they were back at an even number so they needed to
add one more to get the odd number and along came David. And so, David
was the odd child. (Haha). They had their odd number of 5 kids in only 6
would tell of going to the grocery store with her five kids and a few
people would be shocked and stare and say “you have too many children!”
Not being afraid to speak her mind she would respond with, “which one
should I take out and drown?“. That stopped the talking.
Mom's Quotes and Instruction
Mom was always
quick and witty with her answers to people, and us kids. She had a few
quotes and sayings that she loved as well.
Mom it seems never
wanted to take away hope from us kids, so when we asked her for
something to which the answer would be a no, she would say “we'll see”.
So we kids would go off with the feeling that all hope was not lost, and
giving us time to think about what we were asking for. Mom, and dad for
that matter believed in giving us a road map to help us make our own
decisions instead of making them for us.
Some of her other quotes that us 5 kids remember are:
- “Put your chin over your plate”,
- “Save your money, honey”,
- “they grow up so fast, enjoy them while you can”,
- “save the straws and napkins”
from what I hear, she also mentioned to the 4 younger siblings how much
they could learn from me on a regular basis. (David > you taught us
what NOT to do by the mistakes you made). (Stan > I wasn't going to
Some favorite quotes from others:
- “I can handle any crisis, I have kids”,
- “Self Cleaning Kitchen, clean up after yourself”,
- “Proud to be an American”,
- “Grandma's Kitchen, kids eat free”,
- “Heaven's the place where all the dogs you've ever loved come to greet you”,
- “I look to the future because that is where I'm going to spend the rest of my life”,
- “the cost of raising a medium sized dog to the age of 11 is $16,400”,
- “However good or bad a situation is, it will change”,
- “Get rid of anything that is not useful, beautiful or joyful”,
- “No one is in charge of your happiness but you”,
- “Life is like a roll of toilet paper, the closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes”,
- “Treat everyone with politeness, even those who are rude to you, not because they are nice, but because you are”,
that children are temporary. As soon as the develop a sense of humor
and are good company, they pack up their electronic equipment and their
clothes (and some of yours) and leave in a U-Haul to return only at
Non quotes: Mom never said, “Wait till your father gets home!”. She dealt directly and on a timely basis with our hi-jinks
Stories of Growing Up With Mom
us kids would get home from school before mom arrived home from
whatever it was she was doing. Her instructions to us were to go
straight to doing homework, and not to play or watch TV. Well,
fortunately, the TV was in mom's bedroom which overlooked the driveway,
so us kids figured we could watch TV and we would hear her coming down
the driveway. Worked perfectly. Mom would come down the driveway, and us
kids would turn the TV off and scatter to the various places we were
doing homework. Yet, somehow, mom knew we were watching TV. She didn't
tell us that she know about this, nor how she knew though. It was only
some years later that mom confided in me that she knew, and kept it a
secret. She said that she always know what we would be doing if we got
home and she was not there. Can't do too much damage if we are watching
cartoons. So how did she know? Well, the TV cast flickering lights on
the ceiling of the bedroom which she could see coming down the driveway.
She was too smart for us.
I was a kid in my teen years, mom and I were talking about marriage and
I insisted that I would never ever get married to a girl. Mom knew
better of course and took the opportunity to make a friendly bet. She
bet me a dollar that I WOULD get married. Well, time passed, and sure
enough, I got married, and mom did not let me forget about that bet. She
was looking for that dollar. I paid her with a silver certificate,
which she kept to this day.
Later in life, I
can remember quite clearly the “Mom and Dad” show. Frequently when we
would call them, at some point in the call mom and dad would start
playing off each other like a couple comedians. They would crack us up
with their silly antics and bantering back and forth. I wish I could
remember some of the conversations, I can't, but I can remember the
great times on the phone and Facetime with the both of them laughing and
having fun over the distance.
Keeping Mom Busy
five of us kids and dad kept mom pretty busy. She joined twin mothers
club... she did Girl Scouts with her friend Mary Kern, whom we mentioned
earlier… … and because of dad's job with IBM, moved a lot from place to
place in the country. 0ur mom and dad moved and mom made new homes many
times. Poughkeepsie, NY, Carmel NY, Los Angeles CA, San Francisco CA,
back to Carmel NY, Tucson AZ and finally Lake Havasu City AZ. I remember
moving from Carmel NY to Los Angeles, mom drove our 1972 Chevy Van with
4 of us kids and a cat, and I followed behind on a motorcycle across
had good self-control and was a hard worker. When mom and dad built
their houses in Tucson and Lake Havasu, mom was right in the midst of
the work studying layouts and helping with the planning and
could make any place home. She was a great decorator. Her friend Pat
Alban and mom created works of art in many pot shelf decorations and
other house decorations that were gorgeous. All of her collections show
different parts of who mom is. She could take nothing and make it into
something. She saw value in everything even down to straws and napkins
she frugally collected.
she was able to keep up with dad and learn how to ride her own
motorcycle… She started off learning on a 185 Suzuki dirt bike and
eventually rode a 650 BMW on the street. Mom and dad crossed the country
not once but twice together on a motorcycle and another time by car.
They once were traveling by motorcycle through a National Park and saw a
sign telling the tourists to roll up their windows if they spotted a
bear. Dad turned his head back and asked mom if we had windows on our
also learned how to shoot a gun…Mom was also a good target shooter. On
two occasions, mom was the best shot at a competition held once a week
at Sam's shooters emporium. Mom, with her 38 special was out shooting
men who were using 22 target pistols. Dad was there but poor dad never
won first place. The good news for mom was that her access to the
shooting range was free when she won first place. Dad always had to pay!
was a bowler too, having been a member of the Pink Panthers Bowling
league for a while in Tucson where she made many friends.
even learned to golf with her own golf clubs and camera… While on the
golf course mom would stop on the fairways and take out her camera and
take pictures of the birds and critters. Mom loved animals…
An Animal Lover
Mom was an animal
lover and over the years had many cats and dogs. At one time she trained
one of the family dogs to stay in an un-fenced yard.
Mom also had
compassion for the sick and the elderly. She joined an organization
where dogs were brought into nursing homes to visit the elderly and ill.
After her last dog,
Pooh-Bear, passed many years ago, mom traded domesticated pets for wild
animals and made her yard a sanctuary for birds, rabbits, and ground
squirrels. She especially loved hummingbirds. She would lure these
unsuspecting critters closer and get their pictures so she could share
them with the family. She loved her “bun buns”, the little rabbits that
would come around the house and loved drawing them out into the yard
when she had visitors. Mom had a great bird feeder that she would fill
each day and attract flocks of birds. When we would come to visit it was
like going to a small zoo. It was so much fun seeing all her little
animals throughout the days.
Mom had a couple clippings that told about cats and dogs too:
- Cat – a long gaze and a slow blink tells your cat that you love him, his slow blinks says that he loves you.
Kisses Can Make You Sick – bacteria and germs like salmonella and
campylobacter(?). They get them in their mouth when eating spoiled food,
or using his tongue as toilet paper.
Mom was also an
avid gardener and through the years wherever we were she always had
plants all over the place. She was even known to talk to her plants and
encourage them, encouragement was in her nature. It amazed us that she
was even able to get things to grow here in Lake Havasu, but she did.
There are beautiful bushes and trees all around the outside of the house
to remind us of her. She would also have plants inside the house. She
liked the life they represented, and valued that life.
collecting things. One thing she collected was bells, and she had a
whole collection of them. She loved the beautiful and varied tones they
make. She also carried a bell attached to her purse, and when it would
ring and her kids or grand kids were around, she would tell them another
angel got his wings.
and dad's refrigerator was a record of all the places they had traveled
recorded in the souvenir refrigerator magnets. Each magnet reminded her
and dad of a place they had been together and they had been to a lot of
places together, so the fridge was pretty full. Today they are a
reminder for anyone looking at them of the places they have been.
was also very frugally minded and collected extra straws and napkins
rather than throwing them out when they ate out. This went along
perfectly with their ability to entertain themselves. Mom and dad found
entertainment in driving to several different grocery stores to use up
their coupons or get the best deals in each store. She enjoyed being a
would make collections of things she would give away at Christmas,
birthdays and other events as previously mentioned. She would collect
the funny papers for Stan from the local newspaper and each time she
came to visit I would get a stack of funnies to read. She was always
thinking of other people.
was a great crocheter as well, making clowns, blankets and other
things. Mom's collections were part of making a home in each place she
was a great cook. She put recipe books together, and gave them away. I
still have mine, one of my favorite dishes is Beef Stroganoff, which
dad, Mary and I made this past week. Her cooking was where the saying
came from, “this is not how my mom used to make it”, something I learned
not to say early in my own marriage.
thing though...mom apparently thought that lima beans were good for us.
Sometimes she would make this dish called “hamburger soup”. Well, that
dish consisted of hamburger meat with Veg-All vegetables poured in it.
Veg-all soup had lima beans. All five of us kids were disgusted at the
thought of eating lima beans. We never had dessert on hamburger soup
night because in order to have dessert we were required to eat
everything on our supper plate and that included the lima beans. About
the only good thing we can say about Hamburger soup is that trying to
swallow those lima beans without tasting them so we could have desert
taught us how to swallow any prescription pills that we need to take.
Fortunately, hamburger soup was an exception in mom's recipe collection.
Keeping Her Mind Sharp
always tried to keep her mind sharp, even through the struggle with
Alzheimer's. She would work on Sudoku number puzzles and did so until
she just couldn't any longer, then she worked on solitaire, then slide
shows of photo files and listened to her favorite music.
type of Alzheimer's seemed to take away her ability to communicate and
function with the little things, although she seemed to clearly remember
people, events and things. We would look at pictures on the slide show
for hours, and she would recognize the people in the pictures, she just
couldn't talk about them. She never complained about it, ever, and
worked hard to be the best she could be with what she had. She is an
inspiration to her whole family.
enjoyed life. She didn’t need things to make her happy. But she did
enjoy the things she had. She was a great listener and would listen
enthusiastically even up to the end when she was not able to talk back
to us. She loved to laugh and never lost her sense of humor.
Conclusion – Entertaining and Caring For Mom To The End
and dad enjoyed each other all through the years. But really continued
to fall more in love later in life. Together they loved laughing. As
mom's Alzheimer's disease progressed, dad wanted to insure that mom
could comprehend TV programs that they watched together, consequently
their programs consisted of humorous programs, mostly sit coms like the
Carol Burnett show and Momma's Family. Mom seemed to comprehend those
shows right to the end because dad and I could hear her laughing at the
antics only a couple weeks before she passed.
McDonald’s… They would go to McDonalds and in their frugal way, would
order the two for one special, like two egg McMuffins or something for
the price of one. He would always ask her which one she wanted, the free
one, or the one they paid for, just to amuse her, and probably himself.
McCulloch... They would be driving up the hill on McCulloch and when he
got to the Bermuda side street, which veered off at a 45 degree angle
instead of a sharp 90 degree, he would tell mom to hold on as if she
were in a roller coaster and speed around the corner. Mom of course was
hanging on and probably thinking here we go again or something like
loved to play mom’s favorite music for her. He also set her computer up
with all kinds of photographs that played one after another all day
long for her viewing enjoyment. Every morning they started with a hug
and every night ended with a kiss, and the kids joined in when they were
hope to always have the love my parents demonstrated for me. Now it
wasn’t always fun and games. Mom was a good disciplinarian.
Mom loved visiting
all of us kids, and enjoyed sharing the things in life that made their
kids, grand kids, and great grand kids happy.
We will miss her greatly.