Mae was an exceptional person and a loving mother and accepted her children for who we were not what she wanted us to be.
She was proud of each of us and didn't care what we did as long as we were happy and safe.
She taught us not to cry over spilled milk.
How to pick your self up by your bootstraps and to love life.
She never said 'you can do better' or pushed us to excel.
She believed her children could do anything we wanted in life and was always encouraging.
She was not impressed by material things or pretentious people.
She loved children and was impatient with those who treated their pets better than their children.
She adored her grandchildren and kept photos of them at her hospital bedside so she could see them at every moment.
She loved the autumn and the beautiful colors it brought to trees.
She loved parties and loved to laugh.
She was honest and opinionated and had a deep devotion to her family and friends.
She was kind and generous but not a push over.
She always viewed the glass as half full and no challenge was insurmountable.
She was matter of fact and the solution to each problem seemed very simple to her.
She had an eventful childhood with a gentle mother and rough father, but her brothers and sister and cousins were her sanctuary and resolve. They had a tremendous bond that in spite of their father made them each exceptional people with deep devotions to one another. They were the children of Italian immigrant children, the generation that truly struggled so that their children could have a better life.
As a single young woman, she worked as an executive secretary for JPMorgan. She pursued an Associates degree in secretarial science while working and raising her three children and in 1977 she graduated from King's County Community College in Brooklyn with her Associates degree, one of her proudest moments. She worked for the NY City Board of Education as a school secretary so she could be home with her children at the end of the school day.
She had a knack for finances and would always relay the newest stock tip.
She was not afraid of change and insisted on learning about the internet and using email to converse with her children, grandchildren and nieces and nephews.
Above all, our Mom was a brave woman all her life, even at the end. She never shed a tear or complained about her condition, she was just annoyed. Annoyed at the doctor's who kept prodding and testing and offering no solutions, annoyed at her discomfort and pain that kept her from living her life and being with her grandchildren. She was brave enough to know when the fight was futile and that she would be the one, not the doctor's, to say enough is enough. She did it on her terms, with dignity.
A short article from the NY Times by an oncology nurse and her contemplation with death and the inability of the medical industry to save cancer patients sums up our feelings of helplessness. 'What can one do? Go home, love your children, try not to bicker, eat well, walk in the rain, feel the sun on your face and laugh loud and often, as much as possible and especially at yourself. Because the only anti-dote to death is not poetry, or drama, or miracle drugs, or a roomful of technical expertise and good intentions. The antidote to death is life.'
Her tree represents life and how it continues on even though someone truly exceptional is no longer with us in our physical world. Mae lives on in her children and all her grandchildren and all the people whose lives she has touched.