My mother, Fay Shelter, was born in 1919 England, and grew up amongst a flourishing Jewish community. Upon marrying and moving eventually to the rural town of Potters Bar (just outside London), my parents along with a few other couples were the founding members of the Potters Bar Jewish Community. For many years they had no building for prayers, so they used the local Jewish Golf Club for High Holy Days. On Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, we had the prettiest view you could imagine, looking out of the windows over the beautifully maintained golf course. The Potters Bar community has since grown, and today has its own synagogue.
My mother worked hard her entire life as a secretary whilst bringing up five children, which, as any woman will tell you, is a full-time job in itself. She was a member of the WIZO choir in London for many years and they sang, entertaining various organizations at venues all around England. Many of the songs were in English, but also Hebrew and Yiddish. She was also secretary of the organization, AKIM, in London, and a member of the local Women’s Institute, where she won first prize for her apple pie, the certificate for which today hangs proudly on my kitchen wall.
After my father passed away in England in 1990, my mother’s incurable adventurous spirit brought her on aliyah. Arriving with her shipment, we were amused at her vast hat selection, which to this day still brings a smile to my face. Mum settled down very quickly into Israeli life, enjoying being with the family, celebrating many happy occasions and the Jewish Holidays. She always said to me that coming to live in Israel was the best decision she ever made. I tend to agree with her, for she led a busy and full life here. She immediately joined the Kfar Saba WIZO, hunkered down with us all during the Gulf War, and finally moved to Kadima in 2000, where she lived just around the corner from us, enabling me to help her in later years as her age caught up with her.
My mother was a remarkable woman, with great spirit and a strong heart. She was very sociable and hospitable, an amazing cook, generous to a fault, and loved her family dearly. She had a passion for life which is probably where I received my resilient nature from and she never missed an opportunity or wasted a single moment. She would always say "Never let the grass grow under your feet," and I think our family all live by this motto.
I write this article with a sad heart, for I lost my dear mother on March 2. She was 92; and for the last few years lived in Protea Village where she received the very best of care. The staff is extremely experienced, dedicated and caring, showing dignity and grace to the residents, with an amazing amount of patience and gentle understanding. It is due to this incredible staff that I was able to sleep sound at night, knowing my mother was in good hands. Although towards the end frail and weak, she fortunately drifted off peacefully in her sleep, after having lived a long and full life. We will miss her very much but have many wonderful memories to hold on to, as I'm sure anyone who knew her will agree, for she was a special lady, a mother to five of us, grandmother to 17 and great grandmother to 21.
My mum made a request of me, and I will honor her wishes. She did not want a memorial each year to mark her death, but instead asked me to do something special and fun that she would have enjoyed doing herself, and that it should be on her birthday to remember her for the way she lived her life. I guess you can now see where I get my fighting spirit from, my zest for life, and when August 7 comes around, I will have to find something fun to do, so that I can celebrate her life!
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