Florence Adele Hornick
December 15, 1923 – May 27, 2018
Eulogy, June 29, 2018
Sandy Hornick, Son
I recall sitting at a funeral with my dad where the rabbi told a story of a 70-year old man distraught at the funeral of his 90-something year old mother. His rabbi asked why he was so inconsolable. The rabbi noted that his mother had lived a very long and full life in good health to the end. The mourner replied, “Today I am an orphan.”
Today, Marc, Amy and I are orphans.
Before we got to this appellation, we had for a mother a woman that was in many ways larger than life.
Mom was blessed with a long life, many blessings and, but for the past few years, good health.
She was born into a large immigrant family and the difficult financial circumstances of those immigrants in that era. In a tenement apartment with her parents, 4 older sisters and sometimes a boarder, space was tight. Mom had to share a bed with two of her sisters (For those of you who knew them, imagine three of the Cantor girls allocating space in one of those beds.)
Typical of her generation, mom did not have the advantages or choices available to her children or grandchildren. Her education ended with high school. She told me she was a good student, though I note that one of the benefits of living to 94 is that no one is around to contradict your version of events and she didn’t tell me that until she was in her nineties. She worked as a bookkeeper after high school and returned to work in the early 1960s.
In between those years, mom entered on what I think she would consider her most important life’s work. She met my dad on the beach as a 98-pound beauty and shared almost 6 decades with him. They quickly started a family. She and dad doted on Marc. As a child, I would play with dad’s tape recorder with reels of tape with Marc being a precocious kid: reciting things like the preamble to the Constitution. While the fascination with tape recording seems to have abated by the time there were two kids demanding attention, Mom never wavered from her faith in Marc’s exceptionalism. When Linda once said of Marc, you act like he’s smarter than Einstein, mom set her straight.
Before my sister was born, I recall mom saying she wanted a girl and becoming very excited hearing the song and dance man Ray Bolger (who was also the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz) sing, “Once in Love with Amy” on TV. Maybe I was just young and impressionable, but in my 68 years with her, I don’t recall mom wanting anything more than a daughter named Amy.
Mom and Amy sometimes differed, perhaps often, but mom always adored her daughter. In the hospital recently, Amy’s was fighting to keep mom more connected and responsive. She demanded that mom say something in a complete sentence before she could have ice cream. Mom’s response was, “I love you.”
Mom and dad loved each other deeply but they did not have, nor did they aspire to, a Father Knows Best type of marriage. To them, marriage was often a contest of wills. It sometimes scared me as a child but what I wouldn’t give to hear them “debate” one more time. When it came to what was really important to them, their children, their shul, Israel, they always spoke as one.
Yiddishkeit shaped and defined mom. … She loved her involvement in the Sisterhood at the Jewish Center of Hyde Park and in the Pioneer Women now known as Na’Amatt. Raising funds for the synagogue or Israel helped to fulfill her and added to her huge circle of friends. She saw the world in a simple dichotomy. It was good for the Jews or it was not. When Lee Harvey Oswald was apprehended, mom’s comment was “Thank G-d he isn’t Jewish.”
It seemed to me that mom had an enormous circle of friends. Friends from the Pioneer Women, from the synagogue, friends from childhood, canasta and mah jong groups, life-long friends in Cleveland and Canada that she made on her travels, friends from the neighborhood. She was a New York landlord that became friends with her tenants. She befriended her machatunim, the Beckers, the Davidoffs and the Harrises. Linda and I recall when our parents first met: My mother with her devotion to Judaism and Linda’s father with his devotion to atheism. Things were going great until the subject turned to religion. They quickly began to disagree and argue. Linda and I glanced at each other in terror. Then Mom and Linda’s dad got up to hug and all went well.
Mom was unfiltered. If she had something to say she said it. – Amy and Chelsea you’re not the family’s first outspoken women. – When the Hyde Park Women provided a break fast at the synagogue at end of Yom Kippur and a neighbor who never contributed to the shul stopped to eat, mom told her off. Mom had the bad fortune to see the one and only performance of Moose Murders, generally considered one of the 10 worst shows to ever open on Broadway. As the shocked audience stumbled out at its conclusion, -think of the audiences initial reaction in the Producers – Mom sought out the theater manager and yelled at him that he should be ashamed of himself for charging money to see that show. When our pet blue parakeet named Happiness literally flew the coop, mom thought nothing of running up and down East 52nd Street in her housedress, head seemingly facing the heavens, calling out “Happiness. Happiness.”
Mom was a strong and determined woman. My dad had a large, strapping truck man who delivered some of the furniture he made. He sometimes would drop off the payments he received at our house. The family dog, Tug, had a visceral reaction to him, once chasing him on top of his truck’s cab. So the next time he stopped by to drop off the payments, Tug started barking and jumping at the door. Mom grabbed Tug in her right hand and the door handle in her left and started to open the door without knowing who was on the other side. The truck man grabbed the outside doorknob with both hands and struggled to keep mom from opening the door with her left hand. Somehow that situation got resolved without anyone getting hurt but the next day the truck man reported to my father, and I quote, “that’s some woman you got there.”
Mom loved travel and eating but even more she loved feeding. She prepared prodigious amounts of food for every occasion and always admonished us to take more. She loved having my brother-in-law Gary at seders, not because he had any interest in anything religious but because he was a zealous consumer of mom’s food.
Mom loved expanding her family. Sheila Gilman told me yesterday that when she married into the family, mom called weekly to make her feel welcome. She made the later additions to the family welcome in turn. I believe that, in spite of failing health, mom stayed around to witness, albeit on Facetime, Jonathan’s and Rachel’s wedding.
Mom adored her grandchildren and her house was a shrine of photographs to each of them. More recently, she ate her meals with a picture of her first great granddaughter, Emma staring at her. Mom would get up every morning and talk to Emma’s picture and loved watching videos of Emma and Maya.
Watching how my mother would light up when viewing pictures or videos of Emma and Maya, led me to think that 94 years ago my mom was a similarly adorable baby on my grandmother’s knee. I was struck then that, since mom fell ill in early April, she would wake up expecting to find her mother there. When I asked he recently if she was dreaming about grandma, she shook her head yes. I can’t say if it was grandma beckoning her or if near the end of life people’s minds return to their longest deepest memories but I’d like to believe that grandma now has her baby back.
Meredith Hornick’s Eulogy for her Grandmother
Meredith Hornick, Granddaughter
My Grandma Florence and Grandpa Joe will always be very special. I remember all the grandchildren playing downstairs in my grandparent’s basement. Our whole family would celebrate the major Jewish holidays in the dining room for years. The table was full and when we were done eating, Grandma kept offering us more food and we would all laugh.
Grandma and Grandpa would always have so much chocolate. Grandma would sneak her and the children from movie to movie. There were a bunch of days Grandma spent with us paying for one movie and asking us what we want to see after. Grandma always had tons of chocolate and soda in her bag. Grandma and Grandpa had all the grandchildren for sleepovers and 2:00 AM ice cream parties.
The older my grandma became, she was not able to have the big family dinners at her house. My Aunt Amy made them in her basement with tons of food. My Grandma had a hard time getting around and always found a way to be with her family. We would hook computers up so that Grandma was always with us. Grandma waved at me through the camera, always reminding me that she loved me. We were lucky to have Grandma at Chelsea and Jeremy’s wedding, Sara and Aaron’s wedding and the party to introduce my beautiful niece, Emma, and the party to meet Jonathan’s beautiful wife, Rachel. Grandma also watched Jonathan’s and Rachel’s wedding live through the computer. We also used the computer for Grandma to look at pictures of my cat. Savannah.
My grandparents have a family of Mets fans and a granddaughter who is obsessed with concerts, live theater and celebrities. Grandma gave me a check for my 16th birthday and my cousin Chelsea and I were able to go to a sold N’Sync concert with tickets that dad bought from someone.
I’ll always remember my grandparents as troupers. They were in and out of hospitals and rehab centers for years.
I love you Grandma and Grandpa. Thank you for raising such an amazing family and not giving up.