Miriam (Mimi) Massey – Miriam bat Yosef and Hannah – 2016

We’re here to mourn the passing but also to honor and cherish the life of Miriam Massey, beloved wife and mother and cherished friend.

Mimi was born on June 23, 1940 in New Haven. She was raised in tough circumstances. At a very young age she learned to be independent and resourceful and she had a lot of responsibility.

She attended Hillhouse High school and worked as a bookkeeper at a Candy company. She liked bookkeeping. She also worked at the Hamden Housing authority for10 years. She was active in Hadassah.

She met Harvey on a double date, a blind date. Harvey had a car but no license. Harvey told her that he didn’t like women smoking and she never smoked again. And more important, neither of them ever went out with anyone else ever again. They have been married 59 years. If I can sum up all these years in one sentence, I’ll just quote something she said to Harvey once, “I love you but you’re also my friend.” Harvey says maybe that’s more important than her loving him.

As a mother to Jeff and Brian, she was hardworking and dedicated. Among other roles, she was a Den leader for Brian’s cub scouts and took the kids to all sorts of activities like swim meets. And in case you want to know how she felt about Sandi, near the very end, at the hospital, when Jeff and Sandi came to visit, she pushed Jeff’s hand away and took Sandi’s instead.

As a rabbi, I can’t tell you how much I valued Mimi’s loyalty, devotion, dedication, and consistency. There might be a freezing Friday night in the middle of winter, but the one thing I knew was that Mimi would be there to open the door and set up. She won our highest award, The President’s award, a few years ago.
I can’t tell you how many times she would say “Question” and ask me to tell her the law or the rule so that she could get everything right.
And she felt things deeply. For all of the hundreds of conversations we had in passing when she was schlepping or setting up, there were also times that she would ask to talk to me quietly in my office and she would tell me something in her heart. And usually it would be a moment of doubt about something she was feeling. Like all truly good people, she had no idea how good she was.

Mimi had an incredible sense of the importance of family, of aunts and uncles and cousins and nieces and nephews. She would remember relatives that passed away that no one else remembered.

Here’s an example. My mother-in-law passed away and Dorene came to shul on Friday night and she was sitting by herself. Mimi came over and said, “No one should have to say Kaddish for the first time by herself,” She sat with her and held her hand. That’s what we all know about Mimi, that she knew what others felt and knew what they needed and did something about it.

And one more personal thing. For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been playing a Leonard Cohen CF in my car a lot. I thought it was because the famous singer had passed away. It was only on the way home from the hospital on Wednesday that it hit me what I was doing. There’s a song on that CD with the line,
Hey that’s/No way/To say/Goodbye.

This terrible accident that took Mimi from us robbed us of the way we wanted to say goodbye to her. We wanted to say goodbye 20 years from now. We wanted more chances to appreciate her and thank her for everything she was. But at least we told her at the hospital, and at least we can say goodbye in this service.

In my mind, I’m not even here right now. I’m officiating at a ceremony in Israel when Harvey and Mimi renewed their wedding vows. I remember their faces. I remember their joy and their love at that moment. I’m not here right now. I’m inside that moment.

To Harvey and Jeff and Sandi and Brian, we offer our saddest condolences at this difficult time.
She was a righteous woman. May she rest in peace. Let us say Amen.