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Monday, December 28, 2009


Leicester Shul

Bringing Mummy home was strangely comforting.
Not because I wasn’t very sad that my Mother had died, not because I wasn’t shocked at her unexpected death. But because her final requests had been fulfilled and Hashem had enabled us to do what she had been asking for a long time.

Over the years Mummy had continually stressed two extremely important requests over and over again .
The first was that despite the fact that she loved us all, her daughters, her grandchildren and great grandchildren, she only ever wanted to live on her own, in her own home, under her own roof and nowhere, absolutely nowhere, else.
The second one was that she wanted to be buried next to my father who had died 32 years earlier.
The first request I tried not to comment on. The best I could say was that I hoped so / if it were possible/ if she was well enough / circumstances permitting etc .
But the second condition we promised , unless totally unforeseen circumstances occurred.

I was no stranger to the cemetery where my father was buried. I had left the town of my birth almost 40 years ago and had been living in Israel for 25 years. But, almost every time I returned to London to visit my mother, I had spent a day to traveling to Leicester, the city in the Midlands, the center of England , where my parents had settled in war time, and where I and my sisters had been born and brought up.
My mother's happiest years of her life were spent in Leicester and although, after my father died, she agreed to move to London, where all her children were then living, her heart had never left this city.
From the bus station, I would take a taxi to the cemetery, ask the driver to wait half an hour and I would visit my father’s and grandparents’ graves and say Tehillim .
When I returned, my mother, who had not been mobile enough to make this journey for many years, always asked me if her ‘spot’ was still waiting next to my father and I always assured her it was.

It never occurred to me, when we had this conversation in the summer, how soon her wishes were to be fulfilled.
A fall in her home and a badly broken leg meant an operation and hospitalization..
In the ensuing time in rehabilitation, severe breathing problems had set in. After two months the doctors decreed that she would have to be released to a facility offering 24 hour medical care.
We dreaded breaking the news to her. Our hearts and minds were mangled with guilt at not being able to avoid what she most dreaded.
Outwardly Mummy appeared to accept the inevitable. We thought she was being kind to us but in retrospect it must have been that her unwavering faith in G’d’s kindness led her to be sure it simply would never happen. .
Twelve days later, as we were trying to arrange for her to be transferred to a Home that we desperately hoped would be acceptable to her, she passed away, calmly whilst sitting in her chair in the rehabilitation ward.
Hashem in His kindness had granted her wish.

Now as my sisters and I tore our shirts in mourning and watched as her body was laid to rest next to my father’s, I could only think, “Mummy, we’re going to miss you terribly, but your wishes were granted and we’ve finally brought you home”.


Rosalind Adam said...

Your Mother was both respected and loved here in Leicester. We have been speaking of her over the last week with a lot of affection, especially recalling the time when she was our Cheder teacher. She was always so caring and she supported me enormously during my first year at Cheder.

Reb Mordechai Reviews said...

Thank you for sharing this with us.

Unknown said...

Dear Anne,
I was sent your moving article by Sue and I am very pleased to have been able to share it. Let us all have good memories of your dear mother and know that she is now at rest in Leicester as she wanted.
May the coming months of spring bring you all comfort.

Anonymous said...

Sue & I were so sorry to hear of the passing of your dear mum and even sorrier that we couldn't be at the l'vaya on Friday. Your mum really has come 'home'.

We have very fond memories of your mum: she was my first cheder teacher and I will never forget the Seder my family spent with you all in Baslow Road (although I didn't know the answers to the easiest questions your dad put to us!).

When we got married in 1971, it was your mum who took my newv wife, Sue, under her wing and taught her how to run a Jewish home. Sue's upbringing, whilst Jewish, was relatively non-orthodox and your mum was a tower of strength in those days. We both owe her a huge debt of gratitude. Through her teaching and encouragement, we raised three children in an orthodox Jewish household and 'the proof of the pudding is in the eating': two have already married frum partners and our youngest daughter, Emma, who has just qualified as a Doctor of Clinical Psychology, will most certainly also do so (G-d willing!)

We send our love, condolences and best wishes to Sue, Ann, Helen and Janet and their families and wish them a life free of further sorrow.

Any of you will always be welcome to stay with us whenever you visit Leicester and I'm only sorry that we weren't able to be here for you on this occasion.

Sue & Mike Jacobs

Unknown said...

Dear Ann,

Like many, I too was taught in cheder by Hannah and remember her (& Otto) as pillars of the community.

My mother (Anne) and father (Monty Simmons) are also buried in Leicester. My father used to refer to Otto as "Baruch Otto".

My sincere condolences and best wishes to Sue,Helen and Janet and their families and wish them a long life free of further sorrow.

kind regards
stephen simmons

Laurence Jacobs said...

Hi Ann

Sue and I would also like to add our tribute to your late mother. Like everybody else who has posted here we remember her and all of you with affection from your days in Leicester. The last time I saw your mum was a number of years ago when she came up to Leicester with Mrs Teichman during the centenary celebrations of the Shul. We had an exhibition running with a lot of the old Cheder pictures. Your mum took the time to identify most of the children that we had forgotten the names of!

In more recent years I had the opportunity and pleasure to chat over the phone with her in my capacity as Treasurer of the community. We will not forget either of your parents who played such an influential part in our Jewish life here in Leicester when we were growing up

Please look us up any time you are in Leicester. We send you and all the family our love.

Laurie & Sue Jacobs

Ann Goldberg said...

Thanks so much all of you for sharing your memories.
It means a lot to us.
The four of us have many happy memories of growing up in Leicester.