From Steven, her son:
Here is the speech which I intended to give at Mom’s 90th birthday. Somewhy, I did not not do it. I read it to her last year. We both decided it was not as good as the Indians winning the World Serious.
Drink to her. Drink to her life. May you all strive and attain your dreams, as she did.
… but please, do not drink that shitty Gallo Chardonnay.
On the Occasion of her 90th Birthday
In Japan, at an event such as this, we always say a few words before we feast. So tonight, as the family member who has known her the longest, I would like to say a few words about my Mom and about family.
For 62 years she has been my advisor, my friend, my role model, and my mother. What ever is good inside me, came from her. As you all know, she has always been there for me, no matter what kind of rotten escapade or stew I had found my way into.
The word “stew” crystallizes the point I want to make here. In Jewish tradition, we do not mix milk and meat. Why? The biblical injunction reads “do not boil a kid in its mother’s milk”, or in other words, don’t make someone stew in their own juice; remember to be compassionate at all times.
As my Mom taught me, the Yiddish word for compassion is rachmones, which comes from the Hebrew rechem, meaning womb, to remind us that to be compassionate is to take someone into your womb, to make them as family.
For each of us here tonight, my Mom has been there during troubled times: with compassion, with love, and with her, how I should I say, unique advice, helping to cool the stews in which we have sometimes found ourselves boiling. She has brought each of us into her family. That’s why we are here together tonight, as family, to celebrate and to mark an event in her life.
I remember each of you with my Mom on her kooky adventures: Kathy and Taffy in the convent in Fiesole; Judy and Taffy at Camp Wigwam for little Jewish Indian boys; Rita and Taffy seducing the Kennedy press corps in Hyannisport; Suie and Taffy on the bus from JFK to Cleveland during a blizzard when the planes couldn’t fly… I could go on and on, and later, after more wine, and perhaps to your dismay, I will.
And I remember all of those family members who are not here tonight: John Begg, Alex Martin, Aunt Roie, David Humphrey … the list of the Taffy Family members is as long and as luminescent as the tail of a comet crossing the sky.
Mom, you have always been exactly yourself. With no pretense, with no duplicity, with apologies to no one, and with compassion for all, you have always walked your path, whether it is over the mountain, around the mountain, or straight through the mountain. You have always walked your path, the path of your heart.
Gentlepersons, fill your glasses please …
So on behalf of all us present tonight, on behalf of all of the others so near, yet so far and away, to you, Mom … we are all fucking proud to be in your family and we love you.
L’Chaim … to life…