My mother was a woman of incredible dignity. One of her guiding principles was to always be sure to do the right thing in life, the proper thing, even if it was uncomfortable. The 'right thing' could refer to always dressing properly ('like a mensch') when you went into town, or to being polite and restrained even under the most distressing circumstances. One kept one's dignity, one's self-respect, always.
I often think back to her words on the morning of my Dad's passing, forty-six years ago. It was before 7AM, and we had just heard from the hospital that my father had passed away in his sleep, a month after suffering a massive heart attack and the morning he was due to be released to recover at home. My mother gathered the three of us in the room I shared with my brother, David. I remember her holding us and saying something like this:
'Daddy wanted you to grow up into proud, God fearing, moral Jews. You must always remember that, at the end of the day, all you really have is one another.'
Fear of God. Pride in being Jewish. Leading a moral, upstanding life. Devotion to Family. These were the values that my mother instilled in us, and which we try to instill in our children (two of whom, sadly, never got to know her).
Trying to pass on her legacy doesn't ease the pain of her absence. It does give us a way to ensure her immortality.
לעי"נ פעשא בת יוסף ושיינא פייגא ע"ה
תהי נשמתה צרורה בצרור החיים