Sunday, June 9, 2013

Esther Levin Lewis 1923-2013


Esther Levin Lewis, affectionately known as Estie to family and friends, and to me, as Grandma, was an amazing person. She taught me about putting powdered sugar on my French toast (much to my parents’ dismay, and quite possibly to her inner delight), taught me how to weave on her loom (granted, I only made one placemat), and taught me about how important it was that I did what I wanted to do, and did it well.  I think she got the better deal of what she got to teach me as I would on occasion force my grandpa to sit me down and discuss subject-verb agreement in English with me (yeah, I was a weird kid).

When I start talking about my grandma, I always have to talk about my grandpa, Nahum, who was a wonderful person, as well—he was quite a modern man, always supporting various causes and right movements, and my grandmother was always right beside him.  Nahum was a man that had an impression on people.  People loved him—I truly believe that he was the man he was because of my grandma. He was also a smart man—he knew that Estie had causes of her own, and that he also had to be there for her.  Their partnership was a model, I believe, for my parents, my uncles and aunts, as well as all of us grandchildren, Nathaniel, Jacob, Hannah, Sophia, Rebecca, and me.

Speaking of grandchildren, I have a slight suspicion that we got our independent streak from Estie.  She, after all, spent some years living in New York City, and volunteered for for various organizations for a number of years, with a good chunk of those years on the board of the local Planned Parenthood. 

I have a vividly clear memory of how I learned that tidbit—I was maybe eleven or so, and I was complaining about a teacher’s aide who was basically just sprouting out biblical verses when we were in health class talking about the various birth control and other options available to women, and I was telling mom that I just basically told her that it was all about choice, that it was what it is. 

Mom looked at me, stood up from the kitchen island and went to the telephone, saying, “We gotta call Grandma and tell her this story.” 

I remember my mind churning and thinking, hmm, maybe there’s more to Grandma.  I also remember thinking, if she’s strong enough to stand up for what she believes in, I will try to do the same.  Needless to say, at eleven, that path wasn’t even close to perfect, but I had a couple of great examples in my grandparents.

This morning, Grandma passed away, leaving me with sadness, memories, a lot of love, and most especially with a few lessons; live the life you wanted to live, be with people who you want to be with, and of course, always, always drink your martinis with vodka. 


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sachin said...

Touched. Lost my mother some years back. Now- I feel I must give my time whole-heartedly, to whoever I am with- whatever time I can give.. I think relatives, friends even strangers can impart a kind of wisdom, that books cant- but we are so absent minded!
Thank you for sharing..

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This blog consists of my personal thoughts and opinions. It does not in any way reflect the position of the United States Government or the Peace Corps.