“You’re Susan Rush, aren’t you?”
My mother responded, flustered, “Yes, how do you know?”
“You saved my baby’s life! How could I forget you?!”
My fiancé, parents and I all looked at Mrs. Eisen* with confusion on our faces.
“You don’t remember me, but, I sure remember you!” Mrs. Eisen said. “Moshe, why didn’t you tell me who you were engaged to?”
We were all standing there as Mrs. Eisen started hugging my mother. No one knew what to make of the scene.
Flashback 10 years, Passover time and Mrs. Eisen was in the hospital. Five months into the pregnancy, she started developing complications. The doctor was not hopeful for a successful outcome and had just told her that she would probably lose the baby.
It was the change of shift, and my mother, a nurse, came in to meet her new patient, Mrs. Eisen.
Tears were streaming down Mrs. Eisen’s face. My mother asked her what was happening. Between sobs, the story came out. She was not far enough into the pregnancy to have a viable baby, her issues were getting worse, and the doctor was not hopeful. And, to make matters more stressful, it was erev Pesach. She had no idea how she was going to manage being in a hospital room over the holiday.
My mother listened, handing her tissues. An experienced OB nurse, she had seen things like this before. Many times there really was nothing to be done. When a baby decides to come too early, there isn’t much help you can offer. Muttering words of empathy, my mother picked up the chart.
After reading the doctors notes, she stood up and declared, “Your doctor doesn’t know what he is talking about. You need to see Dr. G. He is coming up to do rounds soon. I will talk to him. Your baby will be fine.”
And with that, my mother left the room.
Dr. G. came and indeed took over the case. The pregnancy progressed, ending in a full-term healthy baby boy.
And my mother’s kindness didn’t end with that one encounter. As Passover was drawing closer, she knew that Mrs. Eisen needed help. Although my mother was not religious, she grew up in a fairly traditional home and knew what Passover was about.
The day after this fateful visit, my mother came back.
“It seems like you are going to be here over the holiday. I am moving you to a private room and I ordered a separate refrigerator for you to keep your Kosher for Passover food. And I arranged a bed for your husband to stay here with you, as I know he can’t drive the holiday.”
Openmouthed, Mrs. Eisen didn’t know what to say. Since my mother was a per diem nurse, she didn’t work frequently and for reasons unknown to me, she and Mrs. Eisen didn’t cross paths after that.
Flash forward 10 years. I have become religious and am engaged to a wonderful young man. My parents arranged an engagement party.
My parents were rather apprehensive and not so supportive of my lifestyle change. So my fiancé made sure to invite the Eisens who are very “normal” and relate well to all types of people. And the reunion of my mother with Mrs. Eisen paved the way to a much more peaceful wedding experience.
The author, with her mother, at her wedding.
While all of my friends were friendly and respectful to my parents, my mother felt out of place. Instead of running the show and orchestrating so many of the details she had dreamed about, she wasn’t familiar with the intricacies of an Orthodox wedding and was unsure of what to do and how to do it.
Now it was Mrs. Eisen’s turn to be my mother’s saving angel. During the months preparing for the wedding they chatted on the phone about everything. Mrs. Eisen came a few hours early to the wedding to be with my mother, explain things, introduce her to people and make sure that she got the honor that the mother of the bride deserved.
But that is not the end of the story.
My mother had been battling cancer for many years, and soon after my wedding, things took a terrible turn for the worse.
My mother was in hospital for months. Mrs. Eisen came to visit and called my father to check up on him.
And when my mother finally passed away, Mrs. Eisen was there at the funeral, paying her last respects and participating in her final act of kindness for my mother. At the burial, we all took turns covering my mother's grave. As my mother had helped her baby come into this world, Mrs. Eisen helped escort my mother to the Next World.
*name has been changed