Eulogy, as delivered by Norma's son, Stewart Aaron: EULOGY FOR NORMA DORIS AARON May 12, 2014 My mother, Norma Doris Aaron, was born on September 26, 1922 in Brooklyn, New York. She had a sister, Edith, and a brother, Jerry, both of whom she loved very much and who predeceased her. Norma attended public schools and graduated high school in Brooklyn. My mother certainly had the smarts to go to college (yes, and even law school) herself, but that was not what her father had in mind, so she went off to work instead. Norma worked as a legal secretary at a law firm named Weisman Celler, which still is around today. She took...
Eulogy, as delivered by Norma's son, Stewart Aaron:
EULOGY FOR NORMA DORIS AARON
May 12, 2014
My mother, Norma Doris Aaron, was born on September 26, 1922 in Brooklyn, New York. She had a sister, Edith, and a brother, Jerry, both of whom she loved very much and who predeceased her. Norma attended public schools and graduated high school in Brooklyn. My mother certainly had the smarts to go to college (yes, and even law school) herself, but that was not what her father had in mind, so she went off to work instead. Norma worked as a legal secretary at a law firm named Weisman Celler, which still is around today. She took dictation and was an accomplished typist. (As an aside, my mother always wanted me to be a doctor, but since I couldn't stand the sight of blood and would get very queasy around needles, that wasn't in the cards for me. So, it was somewhat fitting that I, like my mother, went to work at a law firm.)
Norma met my Dad, Henry, after World War II, after my Dad returned from his service in the U.S. Army. My Dad grew up here in Rockland County, in Haverstraw, and Norma followed my father back to Haverstraw. Henry's family owned a building at 27 Main Street in Haverstraw, and in 1950 he and Norma opened a store called the Village Shoppe, which would remain in business for 55 years, until 2005. My parents were in the shmata business -- for those of you who do not know what that means -- they sold clothing and shoes. When my sister, Janice, and I were born, we at first lived in an apartment around the corner from the store. We would play in the backyard behind the store with my cousins who also lived in nearby apartments. Even later, when my Mom and Dad bought a house in New City, Janice and I would go to the store most weekends to help out (or play in the backyard, as the case may be).
During the 55 years that the Village Shoppe was open, my Mom and Dad worked side-by-side six days a week. It was a testament to the strength of their marriage and the strength of the bond between them. Not to mention, my Mom was a terrific salesperson. Very few who entered the store left without buying something -- if only a pair of pantyhose or a pair of socks. And, no child ever left the store without receiving a free lollipop. Many children would come into the store just to get a lollipop, and then when those children grew up, they would bring their children in to get their lollipops.
Over the years, my Mom worked very hard, but she was an optimistic and happy person, as the Rabbi indicated. I received a message yesterday evening from my cousin, Corinne, who is down in Florida. Corinne wrote that my mother "was always so upbeat and full of energy," and I agree with her.
I have a couple of stories to tell you about Norma that are legend in our family. One involves the George Washington Bridge and the other involves Nyack Hospital. When I was a child, I had come down with some illness -- I don't recall if it was the measles or the mumps -- but my Dad was sick too. (My Dad used to stock his store by traveling into New York City once a week or so to buy clothing and shoes from what were called "jobbers" on the Lower East Side. Because my Dad's orders were not large enough, he could not buy directly from manufacturers, so he bought from the jobbers, who basically acted like middlemen. My Dad would drive down the Palisades Parkway over the George Washington Bridge, and down the FDR to the Lower East Side.)
At the particular time I was speaking about, since my Dad was sick, he couldn't travel into the City that one week and the stock was getting quite low, so it was decided that my Dad would stay home with me, and my Mom would drive over the GW Bridge into Manhattan to buy what was needed. (Janice was in school that day.)
The only problem is that my Mom had never driven over the GW Bridge by herself before. When she was halfway across the bridge she panicked, thinking that she somehow was going the wrong way, so she banged a U-turn on the GW Bridge. She was pulled over by a police officer, who did not believe her story about her sick husband and child, and the officer brought her to a Manhattan precinct and incarcerated her. My Dad and I had to drive into the City (and I quite frankly don't recall how we got there) to bail my mother out. The story we like to tell is that my mother is why they put up the center barricade on the GW Bridge.
My other Norma story is about Nyack Hospital. When I was in high school, I played football. It was my sophomore year and we were playing Nyack High School in Nyack in a varsity game. I sat on the bench the entire game and watched as our new soccer-style kicker hit a very long field goal to win the game. Well, the opposing team's fans did not like the relatively new advent of soccer-style kicking (or just didn't care for our team), so they started to stone our bus as we were leaving. The guy sitting next to me on the aisle knew some folks from Nyack, so he wanted me to open the window, which I had done before the rocks started flying. Unfortunately for me, a rock came flying through the open window and hit me square in the forehead causing lots of blood. The bus turned into the Nyack Hospital Emergency Room, which was very near the Nyack High School. That's when my waiting began. Because I was a minor, the ER would not do anything to me without my Mom's permission, and my Mom told them to wait until she arrived. Little did I know that it would be hours and hours.
Yesterday, I computed in Mapquest that Nyack is 8.5 miles down Route 9W from Haverstraw, where my Mom was working in the store. However, it took my Mom several hours to get there since she first was trying to find a plastic surgeon to operate on me, and then she somehow got lost on the way to Nyack. One of the assistant coaches was with me and we wondered what possibly could have happened to her. Remember, this was before cell phones existed.
Well, when my mother finally arrived, she was very relieved to see that the rock had hit me at the hairline, and would not leave a scar on my face. I really appreciated the concern that my Mom showed for me that day and all the rest of the days of her life.
Norma was a very devoted mother to Janice and me. Both she and my father worked very hard to give us opportunities that they themselves never had, and we both benefited greatly.
Although I would have loved for my mother to have had many more years with us, she lived a very full life. I'm so glad she lived to see my induction as President of the New York County Lawyers' Association, and even my Portrait Unveiling at the Association last month. It's unfortunate that she did not live to see her grandson, Harrison, get married, but she did have a chance to meet and spend time with his fiancée, Kristen, which is a blessing.
I know that my sister, Janice, who watched over and cared for my mother in her later years, and who treated my mother so very well throughout her life, is devastated by the loss of her. Janice was at my mother's side comforting her, massaging her feet and making sure she was safe.
And I know that my father will truly never get over the loss of his soul mate. My Mom and Dad were married for over 65 years and were a shining example of love, commitment and caring, for which we are very grateful.
I want to thank my children, who are Norma's grandchildren for being here, Elizabeth, Caroline and Harrison, and also Harrison's fiancée, Kristen. And a special thanks to my wife, Christine, who is the rock in my life, and who always has been there to support me. And thanks to all of you who came here today to say goodbye to Norma and to support our family. We greatly appreciate it.
So, even though it hurts, and there will be many rough days and weeks ahead as we grieve the loss of Norma Aaron, we must all go on, in her memory, but never forgetting what she meant to all of us.
I love you, Mommy. Rest in peace.