My Mother, Karen Mashmoor, My Best Friend

It was the winter of 1990. The air delightfully smelled of snow. Icicles decoratively hung from the electrical wires outside our house. But, the freezing wind was fierce and cruel. The below freezing temperatures had frozen our water pipes, and we had just lost heat. The tips of my fingers, toes and nose tingled from the frost. We were poor and cold, but, inside, I was rich and warm with happiness. 

I was buried beneath six layers of blankets, cuddled up close to her. My baby sister was asleep on the other side of the bed, sucking her thumb. Her little hand rested on the ear, which she had caressed until falling into a deep slumber. Every few minutes, I would come up for a breath of cold air – to watch the breath escape from my mouth and linger through the house – and to look at her in admiration. Her hair was long and glimmered from the reflection of the kitchen light. Her skin was flawless and radiant. She was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. She was perfect. She was my mother.

Today, she is no less beautiful and radiant today than she was 20 years ago. To be sure, her light and joy continues to glimmer upon the hearts and souls of all those who surround her. She brightens and illuminates the lives of her co-workers, her husband, her friends, her family, and especially me, her eldest daughter.

My mom’s name, Karen, קרן, means a ray of light in Hebrew. Just as her light, her love, kept me warm that winter under six layers of blankets, she has always brought me joy, even in times of hardship and desperation. When my legs were too weak, and I would fall to the ground, she would pick me up, and wipe away my tears. When my heart was broken, she picked up the pieces and made me laugh. In times of darkness, she has been my ray of light.

קרן can also mean a horn in Hebrew, an instrument by which we can make music and celebratory sounds. Whenever I have achieved great things, succeeded in accomplishing my dreams or reached an incredible milestone in my life, my happiness is exceeded and enhanced only by her pride and celebratory exclamations. She sings, dances and shouts praise and excitement for who I have become. She will, no doubt, be the person to dance the most at my wedding. She is the horn that plays the music of my life.

Her birthday last year, significant to me, fell during the Jewish holiday of Chanukah, the festival of lights. We, the Jews, celebrate the miracle of a single jar of oil, sufficient only to burn for one day, burning for eight in the Temple. The Sages designated these eight days as a festival, with songs of praise and thanksgiving. So, this year, today, while I recite “al ha’nissim,” I will also thank God for the miracle of my mother – my ray of light, my song of praise.

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One thought on “My Mother, Karen Mashmoor, My Best Friend

  1. Dear Kami,

    Although you do not know me, your mother does. You see, dear sweet child, not only do I know your mother, I also knew your father. My name is Lisa Walker and I used to work as a hairstylist at CinAndre with both of them and prior to getting my own chair there, I was Christian Quinet’s apprentice. Your mother and I were pregnant together, (she was pregnant with you @ the babyshower MaryJo Piazza hosted for me and everyone at CinAndre attended) and I gave birth to my son on April 5, 1980; your mom probably remembers me as “Lee”. I am a light-skinned Black woman, I think your mom will remember me, I hope.
    I read your thoughts, dashed hopes and vivid descriptions of your father and I was there (at CinAndre) before your conception and during your journey in utero; your mom was sooo sweet, kind and full of wondrous pre-motherly anticipation of your arrival in this world. I too, was in my glory as I faithfully nurtured the son I was to bear.
    I would love to have converstions with you, to see you and to also see your mom again. Please contact me Kami, I understood how you viewed your father in your piece, he was certainly a unique human being. I live with chronic pain due to an old spinal injury so I can empathize with you on that level. My phone number is 914 255-5034.
    I too knew Astrid and Didier and their mom. I am so very sorry to have read that Didier has passed away.
    I found Linda Q on Facebook and she told me, at the time. that your father was dying of prostate cancer. I wanted to visit him before he left this world, so I could find out how all of you were doing, but my physical limitation then, did not allow me to get into the city.
    I hope you and or your mom will contact me…there is so much more I want to say to you, but this is not the forum.
    I pray that you are not suffering too much, if at all and again, I would love to speak with you. :O)

    With Love and Compassion,

    Lisa Walker (Lee)
    Formerly of CinAndre

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