The bare facts are these:
Beatrice (usually known as Bea) Lubowsky was born in the Bronx in January 1934. She grew up in the University Heights neighborhood, where attended Bronx public schools, including Macomb Junior High and Walton High School. Her father, Simon, had a jewelry store and her mother, Lillian, was a dress designer. Her first job, when she was in high school, was coloring photographs at a local shop.
She worked as a secretary at the United Jewish Appeal and attended Hunter College, where she studied anthropology. While working at the UJA, she met Eric Nadel, who was working there as a file clerk, while attending City College. They married in 1956. She quit school in 1957, when my brother, Elliot, was born. So, as the older child, he thwarted her efforts to become the next Margaret Mead. The family was perfected in 1958 with my birth. (Actually, there were later attempts to give me someone younger to torture, the way that Elliot tortured me, but there were at least a couple of miscarriages.)
Dad graduated from college in 1961 and we moved to Island Park, NY, to the house Mom lived the rest of her life in. At various times there were a pet mouse (Rosie), assorted turtles, and a couple of cats (not at the same time as one another or the mouse). Given that Mom was allergic to cats, this may not have been the best idea, but who could resist? (Later on, she restricted herself to feeding outdoor cats and visiting Kitty Cove to play with the adoptable cuties.)
Once Elliot and I were in school, Mom worked at a number of jobs, ranging from selling Avon (or, as she referred to it, being a "Ding-Dong-Ding-a-Ling") to selling real estate to a return to secretarial work, first at a wholesale travel agency and later at the tour department of B’nai Brith. This last job meant a return to commuting (via the Long Island Railroad) but also made it easier to do things in the city after work, especially theatre going.
Somewhere along the way, Mom discovered coupons and refunding. She had always loved bargains, with one of her greatest triumphs being the purchase of 12 cases of borscht (24 bottles a case) for $12 at a public television auction when I was in high school. She rejoiced in finding combinations of double coupons plus a refund that would actually pay her a few cents for a purchase of detergent and had no qualms about wearing t-shirts advertising orange juice or cigarettes. Along the way, Elliot and I moved away and Dad died in 1985. With the house to herself, Mom was able to turn Elliot’s bedroom into Coupon Central. In later years, she took to organizing a coupon exchange at the Island Park Public Library, which was pretty much her second home.
Other things Mom liked were travel, gambling, and reality television. She wasn’t the most domestic person ever, but that probably made her a better mother for me. She encouraged me to pursue my own path and I think she was proud of me for becoming a strong, independent woman.
Mom died on Saturday, October 25th. Several people saw her in town on Friday. One of her neighbors noticed the blinds down later in the day than normal and investigated, eventually calling the police. It wasn’t a real surprise, as she had had numerous health issues over the past few years. But it is still hard for me to think of her not being there, ready to yell at me and ask my advice about what upcoming movies to see at the library.