My Mom and I

My mom taught me how to stand up for myself. How to make a difference in this world. How to speak for others when they couldn’t speak

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Betsy Silverfine and Ethel Sussman Silverfine
Betsy Silverfine and Ethel Sussman Silverfine

My mother, Ethel Sussman Silverfine and I had a very intricate relationship. My mother was a nurse, a RN, a fighter, a warrior. Someone who stood up for her beliefs and for the ways of the world. She and I loved each other but had many difficult times together. We argued. Each one decided they were correct in their thoughts. She taught me how to stand up for myself. How to make a difference in this world. How to speak for others when they couldn’t speak.

Growing up in Cedarhurst, NY, my mom was a working mom (an RN), with a working husband and 3 kids. I am the youngest of 3 kids (an older brother, Jeremy and an older sister, Leslie) and so things came a little easier for me in the family. What does that mean? If I wanted to go somewhere, the answer was usually yes b/c my siblings had already paved the way for me. If I wanted something the answer was usually yes because Leslie and Jeremy had already experienced the nos. My mom always pushed me to do better, to do my best – to be better than I was yesterday. And this to me, has stuck with me my whole life.

We did argue a lot – sometimes incessantly. I believe that is because we are strong minded women who always wanted the best for ourselves and our family. The relationship between my mom and myself was very special. Some things are hard to say, but it can be felt. Sometimes the relationship between my mom and me got a little complicated. Sometimes we shopped together, sometimes she let me tell her about my big dreams and future plans, but there were days that I didn’t listen to her. During my teenage years, this was the most difficult.  I did look up to my mother as my role model.

And during these years, we worked hard on our relationship. I always wanted my mom to say, “I Love You” and sometimes she did and sometimes I couldn’t say it out loud to her. I wanted to share hugs, cuddles and kisses with her always. Sometimes we did and sometimes we didn’t. We spent a lot of time together as a family growing up. During the summers, she was a sleepaway camp nurse while my dad was the group leader. We got to see them at camp while we were in our own kid bunks. That was very special. And as I grew up, we were able to visit with one another, and say “I love you” more often. This was what I treasured. Those three words.

Our relationship helped me to show my self-esteem, self-worth, sense of identity, and my ability to make friends. I was encouraged, praised and I grew up to be confident.

I have always been someone to help the next person; to be there for that person; to send a thank you; to send a gift; to call just to say hello and check in. She gave me the foundation of who I am as a person. As a fundraiser/annual giving officer for Hadassah and Hadassah Medical Organization, I truly understand how to have compassion for my donors and my colleagues; for those that we help throughout Hadassah. As a mother, a wife, a friend, an aunt, a sister, a colleague, and on and on – she set up the parameters for me to be successful in many ways. Success is not measured by wealth; it is measured by your constitution and your foundation.

I have so many memories of my mom. The earlier years were happier years due to her health. I truly loved when she was a part of my wedding 16 years ago. The happiness that we both had with this milestone was one of our highlights together. I loved when she was there for the birth of my first child, Ella 14 years ago. And then I brought my son, Brayden 12 years ago to visit with her in rehab. The joy and the bond that we all had was something that could not be broken. She was there for me growing up and I was there for her in her later years when her health was declining. She was a member of Hadassah and the Nurses Council and she worked at Hadassah Hospital Mount Scopus around 1948. She had taken a ship from the U.S. to Israel to help as a nurse. She had tenacity, fortitude and strength like no other. And she passed that down to me.

My mother passed away in 2011. Although she is no longer with me physically, I know that she has left her legacy with me in so many ways.

And so, I say, “I love you” every day. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. I love you forever.

“Mothers hold their children’s hands for a short while, bur their hearts forever.” (Unknown).

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