While many describe their fantasy meal table full of famous and influential people, mine was NuNu, her daughter and granddaughter, all at the same time. Today, my bucket list lunch actually came to pass. It only took 6 years for this to happen. Each and every time I saw this trio , I would tell them, they were my fantasy lunch. And last week, I saw the granddaughter and on the spot we pulled out our calendars. At last the timing was right and we both just seem ready to share the passion, joy and love of family and heritage.
I wish there were a way to convey what lunch felt like with a 93-year-old matriarch of five generations. We discussed Poland and our mutual family roots. She shared her world and words with great pride and joy. Her joy was so easy to understand as the bond between these three well-respected community leaders and professionals is so full of love.
Emotionally, I understand these women. Tonight I see that photo of my Grandmother, Mom, me and my daughter. As the generations before us die, and we become the matriarch, something just happens that is hard to explain. Being the Matriarch is a very different place in our journey and so NuNu and her women inspired me today. In fact, their love, pride in one another, patience, and inner beauty moved me deeply. And yes, there were those few moments of desiring that same meal with my Mom, Grandmother and daughter.
So why lunch with this NuNu woman? NuNu is Naomi Warren, a Holocaust survivor, business woman and philanthropist. And at 95, she is still volunteering and attending community dinners and events. She has this never-ending energy that is contagious. The room and all around her are brighter when she enters. She has inspired with intention and with absolutely no intention people who perhaps just needed her touch to feel differently about life.
As lunch was wrapping up, I looked at her and said, “Look at what you have brought to this world. The women that you have raised and inspired are doing the most remarkable work. Your offspring are such gems and community jewels.” She reached over, grabbed my hand, looked at me with those twinkle eyes and slight smile and said “Can you believe they wanted to kill me?” #MeaningfulMoment as I could not feel my body or breathe when I heard those words. I could not even really comprehend the question. I am still trying to process her words.
Yes, she touched me, and I pray I feel her touch for the rest of my days, especially as a Matriarch. She is the ultimate survivor that decided to thrive and yet, will never forget the why. Nor will her offspring. Each and every day we can choose to live meaningful moments. Naomi, no I can’t believe they wanted to kill you or that hatred still exists. But your life, well your life has touched far more than you will ever know. And those like your family and myself that have been touched, well, we are grateful for your life and will continue to try hard to ensure hate is not the answer.
Elyse Kalmans, Helen Spector and Naomi Warren, please know, you have helped someone achieve a check off the bucket list of life. Each of you have touched me over the years and may our friendship grow and our work to improve the communities where we live and work continue, together. L’Chaim, because that is what NuNu chose and chooses.