Ma died much too early, and I was blessed that she died in my arms. My memories of her are clear and always with a sense of her love, softness, and capacity to enjoy the little things in life. For her, it was Pa, her children, friends, and the Friday night Odessa Club gatherings. There she enjoyed the food, drinks and, mostly, the dancing. She loved to dance, and Pa and I loved to watch. Pa would have a few drinks, have a wonderful dialogue with friends, hug everyone and watch Ma dance. 

My sister, Annette, knew a few of Ma’s stories from her childhood and life in a village near Odessa. Sadly, I never did ask Ma about her past so what Annette shared with me is precious. Such as the story of Ma losing her five brothers defending the village against marauding Cossacks and then witnessing her mother’s anguish and grief. How deeply scarred was Ma? Very deep, and how did this event manifest itself as a mother of her own five children? 

My brother, Hy, when he came home from New Guinea, where he served with McArthur, was an 85-pound mass of jungle maladies, from severe malaria to dysentery. He was treated by a nurse he fell in love with. she was not Jewish, so Hy called home and told Ma he wanted to marry his nurse. Ma’s history ruled, and she told Hy that if they had children, she could not accept them as her grandchildren.

Hy could not go against Ma (none of us could) and ended his relationship with his nurse. When he was reasonably healed, he returned to Chicago and married a Jewish girl, which was a disaster. Ma never forgave herself. So, when I brought Lenette home to meet Ma, she gave Lenette total love. It was why Ma came to her first Christmas party. “Events dictate,” Ma grew. Her past remained, but not the power to control. No human is trapped by their past. Ma wasn’t, nor should anyone be.


Author: Sy Ogulnick

Sy Ogulnick received a BA from UCLA, Teacher’s Credential from Los Angeles Board of Education and completed phase I (Master’s portion) in a Doctor of Behavioral Science program at California Coast University. Sy leased and operated a summer day camp in LA. He and his wife then purchased virgin wilderness land in Northern CA, where they built and operated a coed summer camp. They moved to Las Vegas, NV, and purchased, built and operated a community children’s program for families staying in a major resort casino in Las Vegas. They have created programs for children nationwide that employed many people and in the process developed successful training programs for personnel. This led Sy to lecture on how to train staff and the creating of community within the workplace. Sy was then invited to speak at professional conferences on how best to hire and train employees, which led to his becoming a consultant in the art of improving relationships in a work environment and eventually to his epiphany that “Leaders are the primary problem and the answer to the personnel issues that arise in the workplace.” Sy has written numerous papers on the subject of interpersonal relationships, leadership and power. He has lectured throughout the United States, has been interviewed by the media and has appeared on many radio and TV talk shows

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