An Obituary: Margaret Mendelsohn

January 17, 2024

Margaret Mendelsohn of Bedford passed away on Jan. 14, 2024.

Born in February, 1914, she was only a few weeks away from her 110th birthday. She is survived by her three sons Paul, Eric and David and their wives Ilse, Ann and Dawn. Margaret is also survived by seven grandchildren and six great grandchildren.

Her eldest son Paul remembers her as follows:

Born in 1914, our mom recalled learning of the pandemic of 1918 on board a steamship, heading back to her parents’ families in Vienna. She recalled excitement in the streets in Europe as The Great War (WWI) ended.

She grew up in Toronto, then made her way to New York City to make her living in graphic arts and ceramics. She met our dad, Josef, a recent Norwegian immigrant before World War II. They married in 1946 and became parents soon after, moving to the suburbs on Long Island, and raising sons, Paul, Eric and David.

We were a reform Jewish household. My immigrant parents did their best to honor their heritage and put the trauma of the war behind them.

A few things she never tired of telling us, as we were growing up:

  • “This too shall pass.”
  • “Blessed be he who expects nothing, for he shall not be disappointed.”

Her wishes were pretty modest – it didn’t take much to make her happy. She kept a running, written record of our early years while dad took endless pictures.

Her interest in people, in music and in books was eclectic. She had an inclusive view of the world. Mom and dad loved people and kept close relations with friends from their early days.

Margaret Mendelsohn

As we were beginning to leave the nest, she began teaching art therapy at a school for disabled children.

She corresponded regularly for years with “adoptees” in South America with Save the Children.

She returned to creating pottery, selling her wares at craft fairs. She and dad traveled widely,​ collecting exotic rocks along the way. After he died in 1992, she moved to Carleton Willard Village in where, in her eighties, she drove weekly to a nearby school to read one-to-one with struggling young readers.

Always hard of hearing, her hearing and vision became severely compromised in recent years. It became very difficult to call – even if she occasionally heard the phone, conversations become shorter and more stilted- but we never heard her complain.

“How are you today, Mom?” She would respond: “Oh, not too bad” … or, occasionally, “not so hot today, but it’s nothing. I’ll be better tomorrow.” All she wanted to know is that all her sons, her daughters in law, her grands and great grands were well. She loved us and asked no more than that we live our dreams and be happy.

Lucid ’til the end, she ambled with her walker to the cafe for lunch, no longer able to recognize the many friends saying hello – until only a week ago. She then awoke one morning, “not feeling like herself.” David, Eric, and I assembled at her bedside for a few days, brought guitars and sang her into the afterlife. She went to join her ancestors exactly 76 years after giving birth to me – off by only two hours.

Sweet dreams, Mom. May our children live with the courage, the love and the happiness that they came to know in their grandmother.

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