Mother’s Day seems most appropriate as the day to honor these three women all of whom have had a profound effect on me.

My Mom was born in 1913 and died in 2005 at the age of 92 of Alzheimer’s, a cruel disease indeed. My Mom was one of 5 siblings born to Polish immigrant parents. Education and assimilation were goals all were to achieve. My Mom graduated from Pratt Institute as a dietician. Not only was it unheard of in 1933 for girls to go beyond high school but Mom also graduated from Pratt by the time she was 20. She had lots of chutzpah and literally talked her way into a job as the Head Dietician at a hospital. She worked most of her life helping those who were ill and she especially loved the little ones. She was old-school and catered to my Dad’s needs. She raised three children, all of whom turned out reasonably well and none of whom went to jail. She cared about others all of her life. When my Aunt was dying of cancer, Mom was there. When we had our babies and needed a babysitter, Mom was there.

mothers day 1She was at the same time ordinary and extraordinary. She was my Mom and I loved her.

Laura, my sister-in-law, was born in 1930 and was one of 7 siblings. She grew up in the panhandle of Texas, dirt poor. She was the only daughter who escaped that hard life and she, too, graduated from college. She was beautiful and smart but most of all she had a gentlewomanly elegance about her. I never heard her raise her voice to anyone. She, too, was compassionate and caring, especially with strangers. When you met her, she could coax your life story from you and commiserate with you over all of your misfortunes. You left her presence feeling unburdened. Laura’s compassion and caring extended to all creatures, great and small, and to the inanimate plant life surrounding her. She could take a plant cutting and make it root and grow into something beautiful and exotic. Laura died on April 28, 2013 at the hand of that robber of so many good people – cancer. She was my sister-in-law and I loved her.

Dawn is my best friend of many years. She, younger than I, yet age has no bearing on our deep friendship. She, too, like the others of importance in my life is smart and well educated. We are the ying and yang of friendships. She being tall, willowy and blond while I am short and round. Politically we have been miles apart although as I grow older I find myself gravitating toward her point of view more and more often. She, too, is caring and compassionate beyond measure. I often find myself marveling at the extraordinary kindnesses she has shown to others. Ruefully she extends herself in ways I would not have thought of doing. Unknowingly she has taught me valuable life lessons. She, like my Mom and Laura, loves all growing things, from babies to animals to plants. She draws others to her easily and her heart is big for those lucky enough to enter it. She is my best friend and I love her.