In loving memory of my mother, Rita, I thought I’d share a few photos and highlights.

Rita Tico

Rita around age 3 with her big brother, Tico, age 8. These two remained best friends till the very end. Their family survived the exportation effort of Bulgarian Jews during the 2nd World War around the time of this photo. 

Rita mom

At age 11 Rita immigrated to Israel with her family and stayed there through her military service in her early 20’s. Here she is with her mother, Vicky.

Rita army

She served as an officer in the Israeli army and apparently was not to be messed with.

Rita John wedding

She moved to the U.S. to attend Hunter College in N.Y. and eventually met my dad, John. They married within 2 weeks of deciding “before we could change our minds!” she told me.

Here they are at their wedding at my grandmother’s house in Pleasantville, N.Y. in 1967.

Rita wedding

Zowkes! Nice work, Dad!

Rita Rhya

Mom and Rhya around 1973 or ’74.

Rita David

Me and Mom circa 1980.

Rita Leora

Mom loved visiting our farm and would help out however she was able - here stacking the last of a wagon load of firewood with Leora. Our farm would not be what it is today without her steadfast, loving, and generous support over the years.

Rita Gabriel

Loading a bushel of Gabriel onto the wagon for a ride.

Rita Xander John

Arrrgh! What a lot of scurvy dogs! Grandma, Grandpa, and grandson Xander prepare for some swashbuckling.

Rita Kiara

Mom and her granddaughter, Kiara making something yummy!

Rita John anniversary

Here are John and Rita on their 50th wedding anniversary. They traveled the world together from China to Alaska, Belgium to Britain, Bulgaria, Israel and all around the U.S.

In September 2018, my mother was diagnosed with very advanced lung and breast cancer. She put up a valiant fight over 5 months, but in the end there was no cure for her disease. She spent the last three weeks of her life in the hospital with the best of care. I had the good fortune of spending much of that time with her around the clock and continued to learn about this amazing woman right up to the end.

In her final week she lost the last of her hearing and also her voice. The blessing in this was that things were quiet and peaceful and that we have written memories of our exchanges by pen and paper - she was telling jokes and making us laugh the whole while. Even in her debilitated state, she was still making good friends with the hospital staff and the nurses seemed to really adore her. She never lost her sharp mind, sometimes popping out of a deep sleep with a new idea or question about her treatment - forever a problem solver. When finally she had to accept the doctors’ prognosis, that there wouldn’t be a cure, she accepted it with grace - “that’s ok” she wrote.

In typical form, she went out with a party on her last day - her favorite nephew, Meir, came from L.A. to join Dad, me, Rhya, Rhya's husband Ed, and their two kids, Xander and Kiara, laughing into the night. She and I stayed up till midnight sharing gratitude and enjoying memories before she fell into a deep sleep. The next day dawned with not a cloud in the sky, a stunning peachy orange glow and a sliver of the waning moon shining above the horizon. After visits from musicians and a masseuse, when we were alone about midday I told her, even though I knew she couldn’t hear me, that we would take care of each other and that we would all be okay. I glanced out the window, and when I looked back, she had passed. Within minutes a snow squall came upon us that was so thick and blustery we couldn’t see a foot outside of the hospital room window. The storm blew out within about 45 minutes and the sky was cloudless again for the rest of the day, ending in another spectacular orange sunset.

Memories and grief seem to come in waves and surely will for a long time to come. Rita was a fiery, exacting woman with a heart as big as a whale’s. She was perpetually loving and thinking of others, always looking to feed and care for those around her. We will miss her and carry her with us always.

with love and gratitude, David