I am blessed with wonderful parents, who have given me all the love in the world...and MORE; who have shown me by example how to be a menschlich person; who have provided me with rules to teach me right from wrong; who have offered and given me more than they themselves ever had. Their love knows no boundaries.
My mother, named for a flower, is a gentle, passive and unassuming woman -- refined in her speech and in her actions. She is "a mother of Pearl." Yes, there is a pun intended, but she also represents beauty, just as abalone does.
Of course there are many many things that stand out in my mind about this wonderful woman, but here is a supreme example of her character. As addicted as I am to receiving e-mails, I've always been addicted to receiving any kind of mail with my name on it, whether it be junk mail, bills or personal letters. When I was in university, I used to call in the afternoons sometimes to say hi to my mom and then I'd ask if I got any mail. One day she responded, "You got a postcard in the mail." I asked, "Who from?" She said she didn't know, that I could see the card when I got home.
Now, a postcard is open territory--no envelope, which makes for no privacy. You can tell the place of its origin from the postage, and sometimes from the postcard itself if there's a photo. And you can also see who signs the card. But my mother did not look closely at the card, did not care that she had every opportunity in the world to read it before I did. She respected my privacy, and this example is something I will never ever forget.
My father, a Holocaust survivor, led a very difficult life from the time he was a young boy and lost his father. Poverty, war, heartbreak and illnesses crossed his path over the years, but somehow I believe he was made stronger and fought harder through difficult personal and health-related situations.
Together with my mother, he has worked long and hard to provide for his family -- a family most welcome after losing his own parents and siblings (except for one, may she live long and be well) -- and to set down strong family, strong moral and strong Torah-friendly roots in Toronto.
To meet my father is to meet a pretty unique individual -- he's charming, not a charmer; he's a Jewish mother and Jewish father rolled into one person; he is one of the most generous, if not the most generous person I know; he is the most selfless person I know -- he will not just figuratively give you the shirt off his back, he will give you the shirt off his back...and according to my mother, apparently once did so for a poor man in downtown Toronto. He is a loving father, a wonderful husband and a sincere and compassionate friend. Whoever meets my father is all the more lucky for it.
Not too long ago a close friend of my parents told me: "I never heard your father say a bad word about anyone." I could vouch for that compliment, and know that "shmirat ha-lashon," or guarding of the tongue, was and still is prevalent in my parents' home.
If anyone needs to carry away one major life tool from his/her parents' home, I think it's that, "shmirat ha-lashon." You carry that lesson to your own home, to your own family, to your dealings with friends, dealings in business and dealings within the community.
Maybe you ought to "borrow" my parents to help teach you right from wrong, to help teach you how to be a better person...to help teach you what it means to truly feel loved. And if you do so, I'm sure you too will feel truly blessed -- as I do.