Taking The Good With The Bad

by Karen Topakian

Today marks the birthday of my very very very good friend Harvey Solomon. Happy Birthday Harvey!!!

A friend through thick and thin. From my college days in the 70’s.

I know he’ll be celebrating this milestone today. With a little knot in his stomach. And a catch in the back of his throat.

Because today also marks the anniversary of the death of his beloved mother Gertrude. 

Harv and his lovely mother were close. Very close.

He celebrated all of the good times with her.  And was also by her side for the hard times. During her cancer treatments and other serious health problems. Never failing to provide her with what she needed.

I’ve known Gertrude almost as long as I’ve known Harvey.

Living in the same small state I enjoyed many a family meal and event with the Solomons. Not only did she treat me as family. But my partner Peg as well.

Visiting her provided great pleasure. Her smile. Her excellent conversational skills made you want to make a stop on Mawney Street in E.G. Though she didn’t know my family well, she never failed to ask about them and their health. Remembering what they did. And who they were.

She enjoyed a good laugh and a tough New York Times crossword puzzle. None ever defeated her.

Gertrude never uttered a mean or spiteful word about anyone. She didn’t trade in gossip but knew about all of the accomplishments and successes of her extended family. And would share them with you, if asked.

When you looked into her eyes, you could see Gertrude’s love for her family. Even when walking and moving about exhausted her, she never stopped wanting to be around them. Finding joy in their activities and in their company. Happy for them despite her weaknesses.

One of the last times I saw Gertrude was a few months before she passed away. When Harvey brought her to my father’s wake. Unwell herself she came. 

Shortly before she died, with Harvey at her side she called me on the phone from the nursing home. In her clear but weakened voice she left me message. Telling me that she was thinking of me. I left that message on the machine for days just to hear her voice again. After she had passed away.

So happy birthday Harvey. Celebrate in good health. And Gertrude you remain in my thoughts.