the schmooze
Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe
Syosset, New York

I have a confession to make: I am an obituarist--someone who reads, researches, and collects the obituary section of newspapers. It makes for “vunderlekh” (wonderful) reading!

For example, Joseph Gold’s obituary brings tears to my “oygn” (eyes).

Gold--Joseph 2/24/1892 - 8/25/1999. Age 107 1/2 years. Gone five years today. Greatly missed. We are grateful for the last 7 1/2 years you spent with us here in New Jersey. Everything is going well with us, and you are in a beautiful place next to Mom in Paramus, NJ, and it’s air conditioned. Fondly Your son, Arthur..........

A second obituary:

David Mittlemann’s obit from The New York Times, 3/30/2004 read:

Mittlemann--David, March 28, 2004. Never goodbye and never farewell. If only there was one more joke to tell. We know we’ll find you wherever we go, we can picture you now, giving heaven quite a show. Lemon ice king, heroes, golf, Brown, OTB, Drinks at 5. You loved life, your wife and all of us. His children, Elizabeth, Sinn and Josef and families will be having a private service. For information, “Wien & Wien.”

Recently, several friends mailed me an article titled, “This Incredible Obituary May Be The Best Thing You Read All Week.” It was posted on the web on 9/7/13 and originated on (FYI: September 8 was Grandparent’s Day.)

“Es gefelt mir” (It pleases) me to share this piece with you.

Mary A. “Pink” Mullaney was an 85-year-old Wisconsin woman who died on Sept. 1, leaving behind six children and 17 grandchildren. So adored was she by her family that they crafted one of the loveliest obituaries we’ve ever read. It begins with “if you’re about to throw away an old pair of pantyhose, stop”--and only grows more colorful and strangely inspirational from there.

“We wanted something that showed who she was,” explained daughter, Maryanne to “We said, ‘how can we be like her and carry her pinkness across?”

Below is the famiy’s look back on the lessons of Mullaney’s life.

This isn’t the only amazing obituary we’ve seen this summer, Seattle-based author and editor Jane Catherine Lotter’s self-written obit that went viral last month.

If you’re about to throw away an old pair of pantyhose, stop. Consider: Mary Agnes Mullaney (you probably knew her as “Pink”) who entered eternal life on Sunday,September 1, 2013. Her spirit is carried on by her six children, 17 grandchildren, three surviving siblings in New “JOISEY,” and an extended family of relations and friends from every walk of life. We were blessed to learn many valuable lessons from Pink during her 85 years,among them: Never throw away old pantyhose. Use the old ones to tie gutters, child-proof cabinets, tie toilet flappers, or hang Christmas ornaments.

Also: If a possum takes up residence in your shed, grab a barbecue brush to coax him out. If he doesn’t leave, brush him for twenty minutes and let him stay.

Let a dog (or two or three) share your bed. Say the rosary while you walk them.

Go to church with a chicken sandwich in your purse. Cry at the consecration, every time. Give the chicken sandwich to your homeless friend after mass.

Go to a nursing home and kiss everyone. When you learn someone’s name, share their patron saint’s story, and their feast day, so they can celebrate. Invite new friends to Thanksgiving dinner. If they are from another country and you have trouble understanding them, learn to “listen with an accent.”

Never say mean things about anybody; they are “poor souls to pray for.”

Put picky-eating children in the box at the bottom of the laundry chute, tell them they are hungry lions in a cage, and feed them veggies through the slats.

Correspond with the imprisoned and have lunch with the cognitively challenged.

Do the Jumble every morning.

Keep the car keys under the front seat so they don’t get lost.

Make the car dance by lightly tapping the brakes to the beat of songs on the radio.

Offer rides to people carrying a big load or caught in the rain or summer heat. Believe the hitchhiker you pick up who says he is a landscaper and his name is “Peat Moss.” :-)

Help anyone struggling to get their kids into a car or shopping cart or across a parking lot.

Give to every charity that asks. Choose to believe the best about what they do with your money, no matter what your children say they discovered online.

Allow the homeless to keep warm in your car while you’re at mass.

Take magazines you’ve already read to your doctors’ office for others to enjoy. Do not tear off the mailing label, “Because if someone wants to contact me, that would be nice.

In her lifetime, Pink made contact time after time. Those who’ve taken her lessons to heart will continue to ensure that a cod drink will be left for the overheated garbage collector and mail carrier, every baby will be kissed, every nursing home resident will be visited, the hungry will have a sandwich, the guest will have a warm bed and soft nightlight, and the encroaching possum will know the soothing sensation of a barbecue brush upon its back.

Above all, Pink wrote--to everyone, about everything. You may read this and recall a letter from her that touched your heart, tickled your funny bone, or maybe made you say “huh?”

She is survived by her children and grandchildren, whose photos she would share with prospective friends in the checkout line: Tim (wife Janice, children Timmy, Joey, T.J., Miki and Danny); Kevin (wife Kathy, children Kacey, Ryan, Jordan and Kevin); Jerry (wife, Gita, children Nisha and Cathan); MaryAnne; Peter (wife Maria Jose, children Rodrigo and Paulo); an Meg (husband David Vartanian, children Peter, Lily, Jerry and Blase); siblings Anne, Helen, and Robert; and many in-laws, nieces, nephews, friends and family too numerous to list but not forgotten.

Pink is reunited with her husband and favorite dance and political debate partner, Dr. Gerald L. Mullaney, and is predeceased by six siblings.

MARJORIE GOTTLIEB WOLFE says, “A lebn oyf dayn kop!”--A long life upon your head.


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Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe is the author of
two books:
yiddish for dog and cat loversbook
"Yiddish for Dog & Cat Lovers" and
"Are Yentas, Kibitzers, & Tummlers Weapons of Mass Instruction?  Yiddish
Trivia."  To order a copy, go to her

NU, what are you waiting for?  Order the book!

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