Pearl Simmons, died unexpectedly on August 21, 2002, four days after contracting a bacterial infection, leaving behind her husband and three young children (pictured above).
Pearl's life passion was helping children develop their potential. She taught a "Positive Parenting" series at Children's' Hospital in Pittsburgh, and wrote the "Parenting Today" column in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
She believed that every child was special, and that by treating children right you would get the best from them.
Pearl's passing at age 42 leaves a great void in her family, her many students, and the Jewish community in which she was so active.
She wrote the following inspirational poem in 1997.
* * *
I can't protect you any more.
I can't make your hurt go away.
I tell you I love you and show you I care.
I try to help out when things don't seem fair.
But my power as a mother goes only so far.
I can't always reach the places you are.
I want to be close like we were before,
But you want to move on -- to discover what's more.
When you were a baby, I'd hold you tight,
And keep you forever within my sight.
I could satisfy your every need,
It was an easy time for us indeed.
And when you were a toddler and scraped your knee,
You'd hold out your arms and run to me.
I'd kiss where it hurt and make it feel fine.
A hug and a kiss worked every time.
I was always the one you turned to then.
I wish it could be like that again.
But now when you're sad you turn away,
And I don't know what words to say.
You're my little boy, but you're growing up fast.
I feel you slipping from my grasp.
I want to hold on, but I know it's time
For me to let go of this child of mine.
I long to protect you, to shield you from pain.
But I have to remind myself time and again,
That you have to experience life on your own,
While I stand back and leave you alone.
You're still so young, but you've already found
How kids can be mean when I'm not around.
School kids tease you and call you names.
They make fun of you and play cruel games.
I tell you not to worry, that it'll be alright
I tell you to be brave, yet I can't make things right.
I try to listen and to hold you near,
To give you solace and allay your fear.
I try to be there when the going gets tough.
Sometimes growing up can be so rough.
But I also feel proud of the person you are.
I know that you're strong and that you'll go far.
I realize it's time to start letting go.
I've taught you so much of the things that I know.
As you step forward, I'll take two steps back.
It's not easy for me, but I'll soon get the knack.
I'm letting go, but I'll never be far.
You can always reach me, wherever you are.
I watch you proudly as you start on your way.
My love goes with you as we start a new day.