Birth: March 31, 1914 in London, England
Death: December 29, 1999 (age 85) in Vancouver, B.C.
Gravesite Details: Row B -Plot 25
פּ״נ (Here lies)
MOTHER, GRANDMOTHER AND AUNT
MARCH 31, 1914 DECEMBER 29, 1999
ת נ צ ב ה
abbreviation for Biblical quote: “May her soul be bound up in the bond of eternal life.”
Rabbi Lynn Greenhough gave the following eulogy at her funeral:
Today on this second day of the year 2000, we stand together to remember Betty Glickman, Rivka bat Shmuel v’Gisha, mother to Victor Glickman, much loved mother-in-law to Linda, and grandmother to Poppy and Sarah. Betty was also a beloved aunt as the presence of a number of Victor’s cousins will attest.
Betty’s life ended with the century, drawing to a close a life devoted to work and to family. Betty was born in the East End of London in 1914, and at the age of 14 began to work selling women’s clothing, work that she loved and would continue to love doing well into her 70’s. She had a brief span of years during World War 11 where she worked in London rebuilding engines, but as soon as she was able, she was back to handling the fabrics and designs she loved.
After the war, Betty emigrated to Canada with her mother, leaving her father and other siblings in England, following the path of her two sisters Celia and Mollie. Together, these women wove a new life for themselves. The family, though separated, reformed around the nucleus of sisters, and they and their children and their children’s children created a loving mishpocha, “as if we were all one family”, Victor recalled.
But it was Betty’s passion for work, for her independence that truly marked her life. Perhaps her independence was forged by her mother’s own streak of autonomy; Gisha leaving her husband Shmuel to wonder about an ever eventual return, as she joined her daughters in her own new life here in Canada. Perhaps it was her Jewish roots, Betty’s deep connection to the Yiddishkeit of her family, where she may have remembered and been inspired by generations of Jewish women working in the markets, trading and running businesses, often the sole support of their families.
Betty met her future husband in Canada. Alex was a green grocer, and together they balanced family and work. Her last 25 years she lived in Vancouver, where she continued to work in small clothing shops, until her memory started to fail her. Victor was able to eventually place Betty in Louis Brier, and Betty loved living there. She delighted her family with stories about life in the home she was only to know for a few months. She loved not having to cook, and loved being around Yiddish again, her memory lapses enabling a return to earlier memories and language. “They speak Yiddish here!” she would exclaim, in delighted somewhat quizzical tones. She loved the combination of care and independence that Louis Brier gave her, and she greatly enjoyed her time there.
Betty had a fortitude and a strength of will, and she always wanted the right thing to be done – especially, as Linda laughingly told me, by others. She was not a religiously observant women but at the same time knew in her heart when it was Shabbat. Perhaps, Victor suggested, knowing the candles were in the house was enough for her. Perhaps her laughter became her prayer, her optimism her candles. Malamud said once, “Life is a tragedy full of joy.” Betty truly was able to not only find her joy, she was able to share her joy.
Betty’s biblical namesake Rivka also left her homeland to enter a new land and make a life with her husband. She too left family behind, was brave and excited about her new life, and new relationships. So too with Rivka bat Shmuel v’Gisha. She and her sisters created a seamless triumvirate, a familial oneness that secured the generations to come. She found ways to give generously with an open and happy spirit and at the same time, maintain the room she needed for her own soul to breathe. She was not a homebody, not a feminist, Linda said, but she found her balance in this world, a balance anchored in graciousness, hard work and laughter.
As I sat the other day talking with Victor and Linda the room rang with laughter as they told me stories about Betty. Today, I can only think what a wonderful legacy she has left her family. There is a Jewish saying. “There is a laughing anger and we call it wit. There is a laughing wisdom and we call it humour.” Betty left her very extended family the gift of her laughing wisdom. May her many stories, and the many stories about her continue to guide them as her own affectionate legacy. Her memory, I know, will truly be their blessing.
Celia and Mollie who immigrated to Canada and others who stayed in England