First, thank you for the cards, flowers, and trees planted in Israel in my beloved mother’s memory. Beatrice or Bea, as her friends called her, enjoyed many special relationships with friends and family members. If you are one of them, I hope you know that you enriched her life.
Mom was a true earth angel. When she lived in New York, in addition to being a devoted wife and mother, she volunteered at an orphanage. She was an active member of Cancer Care, spending hours compiling their newsletter with a manual typewriter and plenty of whiteout. She made weekly phone calls to shut-ins, people whose disabilities prevented them from leaving their homes. She visited the Veteran’s Hospital regularly and Creedmoor, a large facility for the mentally impaired. She volunteered at a local public school tutoring children in math and language skills. And she was a civil rights activist committed to freedom and equality. As a child I recall standing with her in a packed auditorium singing “We Shall Overcome” led by Martin Luther King.
When she moved to Florida after my father passed, mom immersed herself in meaningful activities. A gifted singer, she’d performed for the troops in World War II and in Vaudeville. With her life-long passion for singing, she joined the Choraleers and was a regular at Marie’s Sing-A-Long. She attended Temple B’nai Shalom, arriving early each week to set up refreshments, going on to receive their Woman of the Year Award. She joined a group that visited local residents who were hospitalized until the Privacy Act interrupted their visits. She was a member of Jewish War Veterans and We Care, going on weekly visits to those in need of companionship. She often encouraged people to attend bereavement support groups, and if they were hesitant to go alone she would go with them. She was an active member of the Democratic Club, making calls to encourage others to vote well into her nineties. For seven years, she volunteered several days a week at Focal Point Pre-school with children ages 4-5 yrs., taking the bus at 9:00 am each morning and returning by the same route each afternoon. When the school decided she was a fall risk because of her advanced age, she and her friends began to sing for Alzheimer’s patients. (They called themselves Bea’s Bunch, and they called her Honey Bea.) After each performance, using her walker mom would go around the room and hug each of the participants. That was her favorite part. She did it until she was 99 years old.
When Hurricane Wilma hit in 2005, there was plenty to be distressed about living on the fourth floor. The roof was damaged, and when it rained outside it rained inside. Along with many of neighbors, for weeks she had no electricity. No refrigeration. No cooking. No air conditioning. Throughout it all, she focused on what she had to be grateful for. If something was broken, she was grateful for whatever she had that wasn’t.
Bea Rosner did not know how to look down. She only knew how to look up. Her satisfaction came from knowing she made a difference in someone else’s life, knowing that a caring word or gesture, no matter how big or small, brought a smile or a ray of hope. When she went to bed at night, her heart was full because she shared it. In the morning she was ready to begin again, spreading kindness wherever she went. Her legacy? In over a century she never said an unkind word about anyone.
My mother, Beatrice, passed peacefully in her home in Deerfield Beach, Florida on February 17,2022 with my brother and I by her side. For several days prior to her passing, she appeared to be in a trancelike sleep with her eyes tightly closed. Yet even in that withdrawn state, using what little energy she had, she raised her arms high up in the air and waved them around with a big smile from ear to ear. A gesture she repeated over and over and over.
To an observer, it was obvious she was communicating with someone. Perhaps it was her loving husband, or her mother and father, or her sisters and brother, or one of the many family members and friends who departed before her, coming to welcome her home. A mystical reminderwe will all be united with our loved ones when heaven calls.