A tribute to a quiet hero – my mémé


Barbara Pierce Bush, our beloved former first lady, passed away last month. Like millions of other people, I was riveted by her funeral. The solemnity, regal tone and endearing stories moved me to tears. Her nearest and dearest spoke lovingly about a strong, enviable marriage of 73 years and her role as mother, granny and enforcer. They spoke of her keen wit, passion for literacy and strength of character.

The funeral struck me deeply as I remembered my own mom and the likenesses between her and Barbara Bush. My mom was the matriarch of our family.  She led by example and, in her dignified way, saw life through a prism of what was just and fair. Her deep passion for family permeated every facet of her being. Family gatherings were my parents’ signature event.  

Mom valued education and moral fortitude, and lived life with grace. As an only child, she embraced raising a family of four, and she reveled in her roles as a stay-at-home mom and later as a mémé. Along the way, she was a passionate volunteer for many organizations and enjoyed an enviable roster of hobbies. 

Along with my dad, Mom supported us through life’s twists and turns. Their steadfast commitment to honoring family resonated above all else. It was the glue and magic in both good and trying times. And their example fostered a close bond between their children, which continues to this day. 

As Jeb Bush stated, his mother was “the enforcer” of family rules, such as stand up straight, look people in the eye, shake hands firmly. Over the years, he said, those rules became habits for the Bush children. Jeb Bush went on to call his mother’s style of parenting “a benevolent dictatorship.” 

Our mom had a lot of rules too. Mom was forthright about living life ethically and with a moral compass. She stood for goodness and kindness.

With each passing day and perhaps most particularly on Mother’s Day, my family is grateful to my mom – a daughter, a wife, a mother, a mémé, a friend, an enforcer, a quiet hero. With each passing year, we understand and appreciate her rich legacy more fully.

SUSAN BAZAR (sbazar@jsari.org) is executive director of the Jewish Seniors Agency of Rhode Island.

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