The one continuous thread through all of my time, the thread made of strings of gold and specks of silver, has been my Mom. Unlike with Dad and me, Mom and I did not struggle with our relationship. We were mother and daughter and shared all the dimensions of that relationship; but we were so much more. This woman was adored, adorable and lovely beyond what is measurable.

All of her artistic gifts were granted to me. Our gifts encompass the precise expressions of art I would choose if a Convention Hall Showroom was filled to capacity with every known gift of G-D. What a stupendous blessing to create and grow through a variety of expressions. Art and writing and the WORD of G-D engross me and have my undivided attention.

An aside: (“Did Toni Lisa just say,” THE WORD OF G-D“? Does this Jewish woman even know what that means? We are missing a sizable puzzle part that she has purposely omitted or just isn’t willing to share.”)

Hold on, you guys, there’s a LOT more to this story; we’ve barely begun. And yes, you heard or “read” me correctly. I did say “THE WORD OF G-D,” and I know precisely what that means.

Back to Mom …

I often marvel that G-D gave us to each other and that I’m the one she paid rapt attention to. I’m the one who got to giggle with her and lie in bed and hold hands.

We designed her last home together. We went to movies and shows and traveled together.

I had no fear of telling her my most personal stuff because she got it without judgment or recrimination. I benefited from her balanced logic and non-hysterical wisdom. (Oh yeah, and my Mom was not a Jewish Mother. My Dad was a Jewish Mother.)

One of her most sterling qualities was that this woman was simply not a gossip, a snoop, a busy-body, or a yenta. Secrets were safe with her; and that’s no doubt why so many people confided in her. She had a seasoned sense of human fragility and did not cross boundaries that could injure others.

I’m not implying that Mom was flawless or that we did not hurt each other on occasion, over a lifetime. We just swiftly apologized, found a solution, were genuinely sad we had hurt one another and then we moved ahead with our shared lives. If we didn’t bicker-a-bit or disagree about some things, the relationship wouldn’t have reflected depth and breadth; and neither of us could tolerate superficiality. We invisibly yawned through conversations with others that were empty or vapid. We remained polite, but getting off the phone or away from the encounter was our primary objective.

There is a piece included in my first book: AWAKENINGS: A JEWISH WOMAN’S SEARCH FOR TRUTH that is called “THE FOUR PR’S”. They are: “PRETENSE, PROTOCOL, PROPRIETY, and PRETENDING”. Mom was overly adept at these human behaviors. This was an outgrowth of her pristine etiquette and propensity to keep peace at any cost. Watching her utilize these qualities with proficiency, realizing that I knew how to utilize them too, caused me to eventually never want to use them again. I slowly rid myself of behaviors that seemed insincere and dishonest.

But for a long time, I was an ACE at these stances because I learned them from a woman with a PH.D. in “THE FOUR PR’S.” But no more. I worked hard to clean up my act and now attempt to live a life that is pleasing to G-D, having realized that attempting to please man is fruitless, futile, and wrongly directed.

* * * * * * *

I wrote a piece about Mom on the occasion of her 70th Surprise Birthday Party. It captures her essence. Dad, my sister and I all wrote things to share with party revelers.    I will share mine with you now:

A Birthday Tribute

The roaring twenties were about to roll in and Mom’s parents were in for a seven-pound surprise. They hadn’t been expecting twins. But ten minutes after Aunt Lauren was born, a second daughter spilled from Rosie’s womb, and my Mom was born.

It was a physically comfortable life, but there wasn’t much emotional or demonstrative support. Perhaps nothing shapes a child’s life more than the quality of care, interest, and enthusiasm that parents offer during those early years. To do without, can encourage a life handicap: from bravado to withdrawal, from a sugar- coated veneer to cavernous depth. Nina is a complex and subtle being, shaped by her parents, her heritage, her life as a twin and the decades that have encompassed her seventy years.

Forever I have been proud of her. I found her so lovely, so feminine, so socially adept, that all through the awkwardness of my own adolescence my pride in her competed with jealousy. But there was always hope that on the other side of awkward, I would resemble her, move like her, offer love and comfort like her.

I wish I’d known my Mom through the 1920’s, ’30’s and ’40’s. We would have been friends. I’d have pushed her to exploit her gifts. We’d have planted tomatoes, corn and flowers together in our side yard. We’d have fantasized about Douglas Fairbanks and Leslie Howard. We’d have had pillow fights, jump rope contests, and would have scurried out of the house for ice cream at 10:00 p.m.

I love that people find Mom easy to love and easy to protect. She is a delicate vibration in an often-discordant world and I have long secretly thought that “The Princess and the Pea” Fairy Tale was written about her.

Yet she is sturdy, has courage and deep resolve. She buried every member of her birth family and bravely fought the invasive illness of cancer, twice.

I have watched her struggle and I have watched her win. I honor her. She is a brave soul, with quiet and enduring dignity.

I love the inside of her drawers. They’re perfect: piles of silken beauty, sweet scents, soft colors. Everything has a home. Every tiny item knows where it belongs. She never wears anything out. Heels are never run down, purses never scratched, scarves never soiled. She has a light, nearly air-borne touch. I love her best in silk and cashmere. She was born for them.

It takes a while to really know your parents. It wasn’t until my idolatry waned that I could truly understand Mom and become her friend. I also had to figure myself out before I could know her. And then I had to look squarely at the forces that shaped her and those that shaped my Dad.

I had to experience blame, rage, and disappointment. I had to resolve my own life-issues, create physical distance between us, and forgive myself for being so challenging to raise.

Now, I know my Mother. I know her fears, insecurities, and laments. I know what excites her, delights her, moves her, bores, and annoys her. We have been a lesson in unconditional love for each other. Perhaps there is no surer way to find comfort in this world than to be completely known and loved anyway.

NINA JOY KLINE …. is now entering her seventh decade with style, charm, grace and beauty. Thank you, my adoring and adored Mom …. for being my best friend, my champion, my soul-sister, my heartbeat.

I honor you this day and every day, Mom, right on through our eternities. May G-D’s protection and mercy follow you all the days of your life.


From The Official President Of Your Fan Club,