Sylvia literally fought for her life for three years. Tooth and nail. And she fought, not just because she loved life, as we all do, but also because she loved her family. She was always the care taker. Her biggest disappointment with her illness was that she became compromised in her ability to take care of her family. I think that of everything that she set out to accomplish in her life, everything she read, of all of her charity work that I could go on about, her biggest source of joy and pride was in making sure that my father, my brother and I were not for want of anything. Come to think of it, any cousin, uncle, brother, friend, visitor or stranger were treated with the same genuine, loving care.
In almost every note of concern I’ve received since her illness began, there is the prevalent theme of Sylvia’s generous, welcoming spirit.
So, in these last few weeks, when I had a moment or two, I would sit at my computer and allow myself to venture through all my memories with my mother. In all of this recollection, I cannot remember even one moment -not even in my most rebellious teenage years – of having any bad feelings toward her. Never a blow out argument, I can’t even remember a single, simple spat.
She had an incredibly keen eye to how I was feeling, almost a sixth sense. Asking pointed questions and easily extracting a guarded emotion or feeling I had. Her advice was always good. Since the time that I left for college, I never remember a week, when we didn’t talk on the phone at least a couple of times.
Whenever I visited or we were on the phone she was always truly interested in my artwork and what I was painting, asking a lot of questions about subject and media. She was always offering ideas of subjects to paint. She would reference a recent retiring Judge or prominent figure she just read about in the newspaper, that I should contact for a portrait commission. When visiting she would show me pictures in magazines, as maybe a good subject to paint, or a review of an art exhibition I should check out.
Some of my most cherished moments with her are when I would come down for a visit at the beach club in the summers, relaxing on the chaise lounges, under the umbrellas. We would have sweeping views of the beach and ocean. We would chat, mostly of nothing in particular, just general current events while thumbing through a magazine or the newspaper. Sometimes Sylvia would get up to chat with friends who arrived at the beach and I could hear her voice behind me, describing my most recent commission or artwork, at times, suggesting to them, that they should commission me to paint a portrait of their grand children or a lovely beach scene for their homes.
She was always a comfort when things weren’t going well. She was my biggest fan of my artwork. Related to that, she was my agent, and my publicist. She was my care taker and my teacher. And above all she was my best friend.