My mother, Marcia Provizer, died on December 24, at the age of 93. We are very grateful that her end came quickly.
Taking a time out from the usual musical motifs, I am posting my eulogy to her, delivered on Tuesday, December 27, at the Levine Chapels in Brookline.
With the death of a beloved parent like Marcia, all the ambivalences we have of how the universe operates rise to the surface. We think: Is this really how it works: One day you rise up and the next, you're struck down. What game is this, in which no matter what role you play-king, queen, bishop- you are, in the end, just a pawn.
And yet, some people-and Marcia was one-some people have the natural gift of playing the game un-self-consciously, selflessly yet passionately. This, despite being a woman who was forced to mourn so many early deaths: her dear husband in his 40's, her parents in their 50's. Her close friends Evelyn and Bill and others, well before their time.
Despite these losses, this was a woman who continued to have the capacity to experience joy; to laugh and to celebrate life. Why? How could this be? It was because she had the capacity to GENERATE joy. To generate laughter, to lift up people from their sorrows and show them they were worth loving.
She was musical and a talented writer, but with people, she was a genius.
As Marlene said, we joked that no one could "work a room" like her, but when she worked a room, it was not to bring attention to herself, but to bring other people into the energy of the party; to let them know they were seen and cared for.
How many life stories was she able to evoke from people within the first 10 minutes after she met them? How much loyalty and love did she engender from the hundreds of seniors that she took on trips, standing at the front of the bus for hours, telling jokes and making the passage of time a pleasure for Her people? How was she able to make me feel right and justified in pursuing my own passions despite how harebrained they really were?
And now she is gone. She had been leaving for some time. And, as so many others have, I went through the hard process of becoming more the parent as she became more the child. Yet, despite the falls and hospitalizations, the increasing lack of mobility and what must have been some very disorienting delusions, she still retained that magical capacity to emanate joy.
In the last couple of months, in her final home at NewBridge, she grew much more quiet. She ate little and was not the voluble person she once was. But when I went there the day she died, everyone hugged me and told me what a sweet and lovely woman she was. They had all experienced the magic of her gift despite how diminished she was. And I said, boy you should have seen her in her prime.
She lived a long life and her longevity is a consolation to us, but there is a hole in our hearts that can't be filled.
What comforts me now and I hope it does you is this: Although we now say goodbye to the physical presence of Marcia Yoffee Provizer, we will never say goodbye to her spirit.