September, 1996 Archive

Toast to my Mother on her 86th Birthday

Friday, September 6th, 1996

Her birthday has been the occasion of mixed feelings for Lise.  Its celebration of the privilege of one more year of being alive has been mixed with associations of great loss–the loss of her mother on this day as a young girl and of her husband, nearly a year ago, when he stood with us here leading a toast.

The period since her last birthday has been difficult and dramatic for Lise–a kind of death and rebirth in itself.  It started with her loving and strong support of Henry in his last days and her courageous carriage at the memorial celebration.  That changed to a time of numb and disoriented acquiescence to her loss which climaxed in her dangerous automobile accident last January.  This was followed through the spring and summer by a slow and steady movement toward rebuilding a life as a single person supported by her friends and family.

Today marks a milestone in that recovery–the fact that we are here despite those terrible losses in a mood of festivity.  We’re celebrating Lise’s continuing good health, physical, mental and emotional.  We’re celebrating the fact that she’s made it through what she expected would be a great ordeal– the three week absence of her son and daughter-in-law. We’re celebrating that it turned out not to be such an ordeal after all because it brought her closer to all of you, her dear friends, and to her grandchildren, Claire and Joe.  We’re celebrating most of all to recognize that she owns her life and that with her continuing health and positive outlook, it’s a very precious possession–both hers and ours.  Le Chaim!