Thursday, November 16, 2006

Bare Memory and Mortality

Star of David
From Oldest Surviving Complete Copy of Masoretic Text
Most things survive longer than we do...
(Image from Wikipedia)

Yesterday's post brought up various memories for me, some of which might or might not prove interesting for others.

For instance, I remember my Baylor friend Margaret Robinson telling me that she had learned how to cook a few Jewish dishes from her brother Leland's mother-in-law, Goldie Koortz, who was Jewish. At the time, Margaret wanted to learn more recipes, but Goldie was protective of her cooking secrets -- as is any good cook worth her salt, pepper, and assorted spices.

That's part of the mystique, the magic, of good cooking. Lots of smoke and mirrors ... a dash of deception, even a mite of misleading:
... all human history attests
That happiness for man -- the hungry sinner! --
Since Eve ate apples, much depends on dinner.

(Lord Byron, Don Juan, Canto 13, Stanza 99)
Much depends on dinner, true, and dinner depends much upon appearances, as Eve can attest, for what young man, gazing upon a tender beauty and "thrown into despair / By those great honey-colored / Ramparts at ... [her] ear," would wish to glimpse or straightly see "the skull beneath the skin"?

Knowing these things, perhaps, Goldie kept her secrets safe even from Margaret, only gradually, incrementally, revealing them as Margaret helped her in the kitchen ... or so Margaret told me.

Maybe Goldie revealed more of her secret recipes to her daughter Leah Sue Koortz, who had married Margaret's brother, Leland.

I don't know, but then, what do I know of these people that I'm writing about? I knew only Margaret personally, and that was over 25 years ago. Of the four individuals mentioned in the previous paragraph, only Margaret is still living. I know because I saw Leah's death mentioned in Leland's obituary, so I checked online for Leah's own and found that she died on June 4, 2002. She was only 55 ... but she had a full life:
Leah was born on February 1, 1947 in El Paso, Texas to David and Goldie Koortz. She graduated from El Paso High School in 1965 where she was Head Varsity Cheerleader and Homecoming Football Queen. She was also a member of Who's Who, Freshman Spring Fiesta Duchess, Sophomore Class Favorite and Class Beauty for 3 years. She attended the University of Arizona and the University of Texas at El Paso prior to graduating from the St. Paul School of Nursing in 1969 as a Registered Nurse (RN). It was in Dallas that she met her future husband, Leland H. Robinson Jr. They were married shortly after her graduation from nursing school. She worked as an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) nurse at St. Paul Hospital in Dallas until shortly before giving birth to her first child in 1972. For the next 30 years, Leah dedicated herself to being a full-time mother to her children and a supportive wife to her husband. She considered her roles as a wife and mother to be of the highest calling and always placed them above any personal career ambitions. She not only was a full-time mother to her own children, but frequently found herself to be a second-mom to her children's friends. Her home was always a safe haven for young people and a gathering place for her children's friends, even when her own children weren't present. She seemed to have a knack for making young people feel loved and comfortable in her presence. She taught a children's Sunday School Class at Surrey Hills Baptist Church for many years in addition to being a home-room mother for her children and a volunteer teaching assistant in the Yukon Public Schools for several years. Additionally, she chaired the Martha's Kitchen Ministry at Surrey Hills Baptist Church for several years.
I suppose that some people might think that she had wasted a potential career, but she sounds as though she were "an angel in the house."

Why am I writing about these people whom I knew only through my friend Margaret? Not out of morbidity, but because they seem more real to me now than many of the people whom I knew casually at Baylor. They stand solid among the many ghosts who populate my memory.

Still, they are gone ... so, you two women, Golda and Leah, neither of whom I ever actually knew -- and who surely had never even heard of me -- as in yesterday's parting words to Leland, Requiescat In Pace.

Labels: ,


At 1:54 AM, Blogger Conservative in Virginia said...

How nice that Leah's obit captured the fullness of her life. How sad it would have been to read: "Leah, 55, housewife, died of xx on June 4, 2002."

At 6:08 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Yes, obituaries should make for interesting reading, if possible, to recapture something of the person.

Likewise with eulogies.

One of my uncles turned to preaching in his old age and said that the hardest thing was finding a good word to say about some folks who had died. He remembered one man about whom he could only say that the man was "a good whistler."

My own when I pass on will be: "He was a good blogger."

Jeffery Hodges

* * *


Post a Comment

<< Home