Today is my mother’s 89th birthday. I often reflect gratefully for her presence in my life. It was she who gave me life. What a wonderful gift she has been in my life and in the lives of my brothers and sisters. Mom was born into a world that had not experienced the great depression yet. Life was never easy for her. She lost her father at four and spent her formative years living with my uncle and aunt. There were seven of them under one roof. In the days prior to social insurance situations like theirs were more common. Despite growing up with a single mom who had to work everyday in the court system of the City of New York my Mom managed to excel at home and in school. She graduated with honors and was awarded a scholarship to D’Youville College in Buffalo, New York where she moved in the fall of 1944. I’ve often thought of the rigors involved with going to college over four-hundred miles from your birth. In those days the only practical way from New York City to Buffalo was on the New York Central (now Amtrak).
She not only made that trip but met her professors and classmates and excelled like she did in every aspect of her life. She graduated Magna Cum Laude in 1947 with a major in Mathematics. She returned to New York City and enrolled in Fordham University where she earned a Masters in Mathematics a year later. She eventually returned to Buffalo in 1949 and began teaching Mathematics at D’Youville College. Like her mom, she was a trailblazing woman who faced a lot of adversity but she mastered it. Soon after that she met my father and they were married in 1951. After he graduated from dental school in 1952, she put her own career on hold as my brother and I arrived and six years later my sister. While caring for us she worked at my father’s side in his professional office and when his health declined and he eventually died she returned to the classroom to provide for us. Only rarely have I ever heard her complain about her life. In past few months she’s relocated all the way across the country and she’s been amazingly resilient with that transition too. Words are insufficient to convey the love and affection I have for her. I’ll just be content to wish her a happy birthday this day and hope for many more.