by Allison Druin
Marilyn Druin was an incredible wife, mother, a grandmother, a family member, a friend, an artist, and a mentor. People may die, but the love they bring to this world does not. And my mother brought so much love to her world. My mother’s love found her way to everything from animals to children, to art and creativity, to Judaism, and above all else to her family and friends.
Let me begin
with something easy - the love she had for animals.
Few visitors to the Druin house could ever remember a time when there
wasn’t some large dog or dogs adding to the excitement of a family gathering.
There was Augie Doggie, Askhim, Wilbur, and Darwin, and a regular doggie
visitor named, Taz. My mother loved
them all and taught even her cat-loving grand-daughter (my little girl Dana) to
love dogs too. In fact, when I would
suggest that were going to visit Poppy and Grandma Mar’s house, she would
always remind me we were visiting
As for children, my mother had so much love for young people, that not only did she adore her three girls, al, er, and laur (we never had more than one syllable)—but she adored being a youth group advisor for years. Our house was always open to any of her youth group kids—so it was never a surprise when there were random teenagers building floats in the backyard, singing at the top of their lungs in the pool, or most frequently sitting around the kitchen table having a snack and a talk. From this love of young people she influenced not only countless lives, but the professions of her own children. Lauren became a special education teacher and is now a devoted mother and youth group advisor herself. Erica became a physical therapist and is the most giving soul to people who need her. And me, I became a professor who builds crazy technologies for children to learn with and grow.
As all of you know, my mother was also a talented artist and a gift to the enameling community. Her love of art and creativity was something she shared with her family, friends, and the world throughout her life. From art shows on the streets of NYC, to international juried shows, her work today can be found in the best galleries, museums, books, and magazines throughout the world. She was gifted, not only in the work she shared with the world, but in her energies she devoted to establishing or growing the crafts community. Most recently her devotion to the Northeast Enameling Guild and the International Enameling Society could be seen in the countless close friends and collaborations she enjoyed. Somehow she was always on the phone with Marion, Peg or Milton, or Michael Good or Barbara Minor, organizing shows, workshops, books, auctions and more. It gave her great joy to create jewelry and to share that joy with others.
My mother also
had a deep and personal love for Judaism. When
she was growing up her parents never belonged to a temple, yet she had vivid
memories of dressing up and standing outside of the temple on high holidays with
her parents. She and my Aunt Karen
were the only two Jewish children in their elementary school classroom and there
were unhappy times when they were greeted with prejudice and penny throwing.
From those early experiences, she vowed her children would know Judaism
in a different way. When we were
growing up, my parents were very active in our reform synagogue and made Judaism
a personal part of our family life. What
always amazed me was that my mother despite her lack of Jewish upbringing became
a youth group advisor that brought many young people a deeper understanding of
who they were as Jews. From creative
services, to marches on
My mother’s world most importantly included the love of family and friends. My mother taught us so much about love, particularly the love she shared with my father. Theirs was a respected partnership, a trusted friendship, and an unending love that could be seen every time my father pinched her cheeks (he called this "cheekying"), or when he danced the jitterbug with her, or when he sat in an art show booth shilling her latest piece of jewelry. And she was so utterly proud of my dad- every time he was given another award, featured in another newspaper article, or given another promotion. You might have thought she was getting that too. But then, she was also that way about her girls. You would think no other child had ever performed in a play, had a bat mitzvah, graduated from college, received job promotions, awards or grants—she was always telling everyone the latest news about her daughters. And when her son-in-laws, Tom and Ben, and her grandchildren, Chloe, Phoebe and Dana came into her life, that love and pride was endless for all of them as well.
But make no mistake about it - her love of family did not just end with her immediate family. You all today are living proof of this. As my Aunt Karen always reminds us, “Friends are the family we make for ourselves.” And Marilyn Druin made more family than most people could ever hope for in this world. As a kid I never realized that most people didn’t share Thanksgiving or Passover with a crowd 40 people. And of those 40, there were always a few new faces that my mom had invited because, as she said, “Ehhhh, there’s always a little more room at the table.” (but it was very little) From these years of holidays, we developed an extended family that ranged from an assortment of relatives, childhood friends, to neighbors, fellow artists, and stray college students. And this extended family’s love has never been more present than it has been during the last year of my mother’s life. There were endless visits, flowers, and cards. You cooked and brought food, bought clothes, sent tootsie pops in the mail, created artwork for her, sang songs over the phone, came in your wedding gown to share your celebration in her hospital room. You took care of my father and my sisters and I. You prayed with us and gave us strength when we needed it and a shoulder to cry on when there was nothing else to do.
In closing, I hope you will understand that no words can do justice to the love someone brings to this world. So as I stand here today, all I can do is struggle to share with you some brief expressions of this love. What continues to give me some comfort is that while my mother may not be on this earth, her love will always be a part of our lives.