October 14, 2009 > Anne Marshak
February 5, 1919 - October 8, 2009
Whoever said, "Good things come in small packages," was referring to my mom. The only alteration to that statement might be to change the word "good" to another adjective that eclipses the definition of great and embraces an unbridled passion for knowledge, a joy of social interaction and a genuine love of people.
Although her physical height was limited, that is the only thing that could be considered small about her. She was and will always remain a giant to me; a scholar with a continual thirst to know more; a woman who could manage a full-time career as an educator while balancing the needs and requirements of her family and the center of my universe. In my youth, her word was strong as steel, yet reasonable and compassionate. She and my father were my parental team that guided me through turbulent years of external forces and my internal growth.
Always surrounded by a large group of friends, Anne Marshak was usually in the center of any action. This was not accomplished through force, but rather by being a natural force and center of activity. Her smile and delight in the world around her were easy to see and energy radiated from her. Can any human being expand their presence to engulf and immerse all around with their nature? Those who experienced my mom know this truth instantly and were converted to her club.
Some summers, my family traveled to Yosemite National Park and camped out - in a tent. One time, I remember my dad, sister and I decided to go for a walk around the campgrounds and mom decided to relax near the tent, reading a book. After a while, another camper strolled by and mentioned to my mother that a bear was right behind her, probably checking for food. My mother looked up and, thinking this was just a harmless joke, nodded and kept on reading. The other camper became more insistent and finally got her attention again, repeating his warning. A glance behind her confirmed the statement and I have been told that no human alive could have moved faster to vacate our campsite!
Anne traveled throughout the world and collected artifacts that were indicative of her quest for knowledge. Her collection of masks from other countries and cultures are remarkable. Although usually traveling on a strict budget, Anne always thought of others and how she could share her experiences. Following a trip abroad, she gathered her family around and proudly said she had purchased Persian rugs for all. The excitement turned to riotous laughter as each member of the family opened their gift to discover a Persian Rug measuring 4" x 6"!
My mom passed away in her 90th year of life. In her final months, she had a bit of trouble expressing her thoughts to me in a verbal way. However, I could look in her eyes and still see all our shared experiences and the warm glow that will forever be in my heart. Anne Marshak has always been and will always remain a giant presence in my life. I am blessed to have sheltered in her protection, learned about fortitude and genuine strength by her example while experiencing the joy and wonder of life from her presence.