As I’m sitting down at my desk to write my tribute for your memorial service, tears are streaming down my face. Already, I miss you so! I’m not sure there ever has been a daughter who loved her mother (and father) more.
But I will miss you and mourn you privately. Today is my opportunity to celebrate your life, share some stories, and tell friends and family members what you and daddy taught me, and how special I always felt when people said, “You must be one of the Schwartz girls.”
One of the greatest gifts I received from you and daddy was that for my entire life I have felt unconditionally loved. But perhaps my earliest memory is when I was a five-year-old kindergartner. One day when you picked me up from school, I was crying because my teacher told me I couldn’t saw wood with my left hand. You hugged me and kissed me, wiped away my tears, and held my hand as you led me back to my class. As we entered the room, you walked right up to my teacher Mrs. Sweeney and said, “I don’t want you to change my daughter. She’s perfect the way she is. You’ll have to teach her to saw with her left hand.”
From that moment on, I knew you would always stand up for me, and so you did. You also must have had a huge impact on Mrs. Sweeney. More than 15 years later when I was a senior at UCLA and taking some education classes, Mrs. Sweeney, who by then was a bigwig within the Los Angeles Board of Education, was a guest lecturer in one of my classes. Afterwards, I walked up to her and said, “Hi, my name is Susan Schwartz. You probably don’t remember me but I was in your kindergarten class at Hancock Park Elementary School.
Without batting an eye, she asked, “How’s your mother? I read her column.”
I smiled and said, “Fine.” We talked some more and just as I was ready to walk away, she paused, and with a twinkle in her eye, asked, “Do you still saw with your left hand?”
I remember laughing out loud as I left the lecture hall and thinking that I hoped that when I had children, I would be as much of a heroine to them as you were to me.(to be continued)