PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE – December 2019
After my mother died in 1998, my father, after over 50 years of marriage, became stuck in his grief. About a year after Mom died, some friends in the Jewish War Veterans introduced him to Bernice at a group day-trip to Las Vegas. My father had become a regular at the morning minyan at Temple Beth Emet of Anaheim, and those friends had warned Bernice “Abe is very religious, so be careful.” They stopped for lunch and my father ordered a ham sandwich!
They found love in one another and he was transformed. Bernice was part of our family. Then Dad was diagnosed with ALS, but Bernice stayed with him and cared for him until he passed in 2001. She didn’t need to do that, their relationship wasn’t even that long when he first became ill, but she did. They enjoyed the time they had left together as best as they could.
After Dad passed some of her friends told her not to expect to see us again, but that wasn’t the case. We remained family. We spoke often, and were always together for Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, and in January (Hanukkah always fell at the end of the semester when Diane was overloaded with writing finals and grading.) She was at our niece’s wedding in Virginia and our son Jon’s Bar Mitzvah.
My long-time bud Steve and his sister Tracy lived near Bernice. Steve was always part of our family. He and my dad were close after my mom passed, and after Bernice came into our lives, Steve was close with her too, as was his sister Tracy. Even Steve’s neighbors got to know Bernice, and they would go to dinner and enjoyed the summer concerts put on by the city of Cypress. Bernice had her own social circle from Temple Beth Emet of Anaheim, and they became part of our lives as well. After Bernice gave up driving, Tracy would drive her to doctors appointments and shopping and their friendship deepened.
When Bernice turned 90 two years ago, her daughter felt Bernice should not be living on her own and moved Bernice to her home in North Carolina. It was more difficult to stay in touch and as time went by Bernice began to slow down and deteriorate a lot. She passed away on November 18.
Bernice and my father were “a couple” for only three years, but she was part of our lives for another 18. She was a blessing to my father and all of my family. I like to think we were all a blessing to her as well. May her memory be a blessing.
Wishing each and every one of you a very Happy Hanukkah and a wonderful 2020.
— IRA L. GOLDSTEIN, President