My Mom Masha

My Mom Masha left us peacefully Thursday December 15th 2022 at 9:48PM. I was there with her holding her hand until her last breath just as she had asked me to. Mom had suffered from dementia and Alzheimers that began years ago and gradually got worse and worse, especially this past year, culminating in her passing from Alzheimers related complications. 

Masha lived her life in a joyful, brave and beautiful way. She loved me with all her heart and gave me everything, for which I am forever grateful. She also loved her family and friends and was a wonderful partner and and devoted wife to my Dad Dan. She dedicated her life to knowledge, education, music, books, art, travel, physical and mental health and a philosophical way of seeing the world. She believed in peace, justice, equality, kindness, compassion and bringing joy to those around her. She loved to feed people and give gifts as everyone who knew her knows, and was as kind to strangers as she was to her loved ones. She loved parties and dancing and getting dressed up, seeing friends and family, and spending as much time together as possible. She was always active: for decades she and Dan took nightly walks after dinner, they went ballroom dancing every weekend and she got her yoga teacher’s certification in her 60s (!!!) She was passionate about life in every way and always the last one to leave a party. 

In no particular order she has been a teacher, a scientist, a computer coder, a mother, a wife, a sister and a daughter, a world traveler, a cancer survivor, an avid reader, a lover of films, opera & classical music, a great cook, and a ballroom dancer.  

Masha was born in the Ukraine in 1937, the third child in a family of four siblings, who she adored. During World War Two at age four, along with her parents and siblings, she ran from the approaching Nazis before they destroyed the small village she grew up in, spending the duration of the war in Tashkent with her mother, younger sister and older brothers, while their father fought on the ground against fascism. She went to Kiev University in the late 1950s, where she received her undergraduate degree before moving to Moscow for graduate school in the 1960s. Moscow is where she met my father, got married and began working as a scientist and early computer coder while raising me. When I was four years old Masha became a single mother and a few years later, at age 42 not speaking a word of English, she decided to emigrate from the Soviet Union to the United States, to join her brothers and sister in Baltimore. She and I lived as refugees, with other Soviet immigrants, through Europe for almost three months. When we finally arrived in the U.S. she worked tirelessly as a computer programmer and was a single Mom for many years before meeting her wonderful husband Dan, whom she has been married to for 33 amazing years. In the early times before Dan (who has always been and continues to be an incredibly kind, supportive and loving Dad to me, which made mom so happy) she sometimes struggled to keep up with life as a single Mom with a young child but somehow always maintained a loving and positive attitude towards… well, everything…

 Masha and Dan spent many years enjoying life and being together, volunteering for the Lyric Opera, traveling the world and dancing their way through good times and bad. For the better part of the past five years I am grateful to have been able to be closer to Mom both physically and spiritually as her Alzheimers progressed. She and I spent a lot of time together, and she was excited to have me home from California with her more and more. I cooked, she ate, we watched Netflix and did our best to navigate the inevitable struggles of old age. Dan was always by our side and especially by mom’s side when I was absent, helping take care of her as her health declined. 

My Mom was the most important person in my life and I would be nothing without the gifts and lessons she taught me. She passed her strength and courage onto me and to so many of those around her. Her independence and determination to live life on her own terms taught me just that and was the foundation for who I became; without her knowledge and insurmountable warrior spirit I wouldn’t have the magical adventurous life that I do. She gave me everything, including the confidence to leave the nest and travel the world, chasing my dreams and living them fully; she sacrificed the comfort of having me by her side to allow me to live the life I love and always encouraged me to do my best in everything and I am forever grateful she gifted me the tools to accomplish all that. Mom is the reason for my everything, I love her with all my heart, always. 

You will be missed every moment of every day. I love you so much Mom. 

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