Believe me when I tell you I did not become Shaindle all on my own.
The universe sent angels to ensure I stayed focused on becoming the best Shaindle I could be. Admittedly, a few wonderful devils managed to sneak in. Indeed, those devils showed me how to have some great times, but they were always politely booted out the door by my angels.
My first angel almost blew it. It was my mom’s (z”l) obstetrician, who insisted she was pregnant with twin boys. Can you imagine two of me? And boys?
Surprises can come in tiny packages. I was the first of my mom’s three girls.
I would have to say my cousin Loretta came next. Teaching me how to be. Teaching me, not so successfully, how to shop for clothes and how to wear them. Introducing me to the sweet pink nail polish named Ten Little Baby Fingers and telling me never to bite my nails. I never did.
Loretta helped me learn to play piano and to navigate being a first-generation American. And when she and her boyfriend, Mike, became serious, he would help me create and correct my English papers.
My first-grade teacher, I so wish I remembered her name, helped me on my journey by supporting me the first time I decided to change my name. My yearning to find me began way back then.
She never made fun of me, so neither did my classmates when I announced the change. I remember, once when I was sent to the principal’s office for “visiting” my classmates too often, she called me by my new name. I could not have loved her any more than I did at that moment.
My aunt Jeanette taught me the value of friendship, honesty, confidences, sewing and unconditional support. She taught me that being creative is a wonderful outlet if we can simply trust ourselves. Jeanette kept her home well-appointed and clean. A clean home, a clear mind.
Mom and her sisters, Ruthie and Jeanette, had homes that were HGTV beautiful. I should know: I am an HGTV addict.
Uncle Jack and Aunt Edna taught me by example. Kind and thoughtful, true mitzvah makers.
Then there was the teacher (no names please) who proctored one of the compulsory regents exams we had to pass to graduate high school and gain college entry. The instructions were clear: Last name first, middle initial and first name last were to be printed clearly at the top of the blue exam booklet or the judges would not bother reading your responses inside the booklet.
When the proctor made his first set of rounds, he hit the right top corner of my desk with his pointer finger. I looked up, smiled and continued to complete the instructions on the cover of the exam booklet.
A few minutes later, he used all the strength his pointer finger could muster and hit my desk again. I looked up and saw a strange look on his face. Hmm.
Being the astute student that I was, I stared at that blue booklet until I realized what I had done: first name first, middle initial, then last name.
So many angels. I married one and had four girls who prove angels live and love among us.
I must not forget the doctors who on at least two occasions saved my life. Angels in the right place at the right time.
I had two supervisors, mentors in my working life, who showed me through tough and demanding conversations the road to becoming a Jewish communal professional. They believed in me, pushed me beyond my comfort zone, and showed me how to be a mentor and supervisor: Mike Lainoff, who, when he left, handed me over to Harry Stern.
Talk about angels in our midst.
As I sit and compose this shpiel, I realize I can go on and on. It took and is still taking a village of angels to bring me here. Perhaps I will see my way clear to compose second and third editions. After all, I have not mentioned my camp counselor when I was 11 and my first serious boyfriend.
No, I did not forget my mom, dad and extraordinary sisters, without whom, well, I wouldn’t be.
What more can I add? A blessing on their heads.