Wednesday, July 11, 2007

New York City for Toby's funeral

Last night we got the boys off the M's house, and David and Sofia and I headed down to CT to visit his cousin and her hubby and son. We had a lovely evening visiting with them, and H made delicious banana pancakes this morning (yum!).

We got into Manhattan with plenty of time to spare. I'd fallen asleep somewhere along the Henry Hudson Parkway, and when I woke up, I was surprised to see we were already in the city!

At the Funeral Home, we gave our condolences to Toby's sons and their wives, and also to some of her friends whom we had been priviledged to meet when we went to the Lifetime Achievement Award ceremony in May. We hung out with my dad's cousins E & P and their mom J (and eventually P's wife M, but unfortunately I did not get a long enough chance to chat with her).

The service was so lovely. The rabbi was a woman who had interned at Dorot, the program where Toby had been such an active volunteer, and Toby had mentored her. The cantor was also a woman whom Toby had mentored, and she sang a most beautiful song, "They Are All Falling Around Me" [I just spent 45 minutes trying to find the lyrics online; no such luck. It's by Sweet Honey In the Rock, and it's on the Selections album - apparently the lyrics are in the CD.] Several people spoke, including a woman from the swimming pool, and J, whom we had met and made friends with at the award dinner. I also spoke, on behalf of the extended family.

E came with us to the cemetary; it was really nice to spend time talking with her. It was brutally hot and humid in NJ. The Chabad rabbi and the cantor made sure we dug enough of the dirt, but I don't think everyone there understood [It's a Jewish tradition for friends and family to fill in the grave with dirt; it is the last mitzvah you can do for someone, and it is something they cannot repay you for.] I sang "Eli Eli" (since I wasn't able to sing the "El Molay" memorial prayer, because the cantor was already in place and also a dear friend of Toby's).

Then we went back to the city and went to the apartment for a somewhat awkward lunch. Everyone was checking out the things they wanted. I finally got to take the painting that Toby had promised us years ago - it was still in the closet. I also somehow got a cowboy hat (J was trying it on everyone, and they decided it looked best on me), and we got two small paintings, too.

We didn't leave the apartment until about 4pm, and got stuck in Danbury traffic. Fortunately, at that point, the family that Micah was with promised they would bring him back to our house, so we were able to relax, and we stopped in Plainville for dinner.

Two interesting Down syndrome related side stories:
1. At the apartment, there was a relative named S. She stopped me at some point and commented on how beautiful Sofia was. It turned out she had had a sister with DS, and she told me the story of how, 80 years ago, children with Down syndrome were put in special schools - her sister was in The Woods School in Pensylvania, which apparently was very expensive for the time. She was a very smart girl. S remembered that her first full sentence was "I can't do it". She lived until her 40s.

2. When we stopped for dinner, the two ladies sitting in the booth next to us turned out to be social services workers - the one who spoke to us the most had worked with ARC for 10 years and a variety of other agencies. The other lady was a librarian in Southington. We had a long and delightful conversation about Sofia, and I got to tell them all about "Gifts".

Ok, I'm beat. Tomorrow is going to be a busy day - get Micah to the bus, get home to meet the Developmental Specialist, leave Sofia with E while I go to my friend's house for a "Girl's Lunch", then pick up Sofia, drive to Newton to pick up Sam, and go to Micah's camp for Family Night (it starts at 4:15, which means no way can David make it!).


amy lilley said...

I was Aunt Toby's great neice, Amy's oldest friend. Amy passed away almost 4 years ago from lung cancer and I was blessed to have met Aunt Toby and share some very sober time w/ her. She was so wonderful to Amy, Nick and Robb. She was a champion among women. I very much enjoyed reading your blog as I live in RI and did not attend the funeral. Thank you for such vivid details.

Blessings to you and your Family.

Amy Lilley,
Providence, RI

amy lilley said...

My name is Amy Lilley. Amy Pearson was my oldest friend and Aunt Toby's great neice. Amy passed away almost 4 years ago from lung cancer and I had the wonderful opportunity to spend some very sober time w/ Aunt Toby. She was a true champion among women. Your details of the funeral service and the cemetary (we walked over to 'visit' her husband the day of Amy's funeral, so, I know where you were) were a gift to me. I live in RI and did not attend the funeral. My sincere condolences to you and your family.

all the best,
Amy Lilley
Providence, RI

FBF Rothkopf said...

Thank you so much for your kind words, Amy. Toby was indeed an amazing woman, and I think all of us who were blessed to know her know what a legacy she has left us.

Best wishes to you, and PLEASE keep in touch!