Susan Schappert's Speech at the Funeral

Hello. I'm Susan Schappert Hellerstein, and I am married to Marge's son Daniel. Marge was my mother-in-law since 1990, but I had known her for about 10 years before that. My first real memory of her is when I was invited to share a family dinner at her home in Newton, which is fitting because she was a1ways a generous hostess.

Over the years, we shared many dinners, summer vacations, and fascinating activities. We went together, without Danie1 mostly, to art museums, plays, and films. When my own mother passed away 5 years ago, I looked to Marge as my primary source of female wisdom. I never had any aunts or sisters of my own, so she became in a sense my closest female relative, and I was enriched by her steadiness and support.

Marge was remarkable to me for the sense of quiet calm that seemed to flow from her, often in the midst of seeming chaos. I have seen her lose her temper over the years, but I don't think I ever saw her lose her cool. She was never flustered or at a loss for words. She had a quiet elegance, and a wonderful economy of action, a sort of efficiency that made the things she did appear effortless although they were not. She had a keen sense of the people and things around her, and an unrelenting intellectual curiosity about the world that was always refreshing. She had strong opinions, but her presence was never overbearing or heavy handed. Rather, her presence, even just hearing her voice on the phone, was often a comfort to me.

I'd like to relate one anecdote about Marge that was somewhat humorous, somewhat appalling, but which always stood out in my mind as evidence of her strong sense of independence, toughness, and resilience. I was living with Earl and Marge for a while in 1990 and 1991, and one night we decided to go to see Franco Zeffire11i's film version of Hamlet. We parked the car and were walking through the parking lot to the West Newton Theater, when Marge suddenly tripped and fe11 on a curbstone. I bent down to help her and she shrugged me off, she didn't want any help. She got up and I could see that her cheek was cut below her eye, a nasty cut. Blood was flowing profusely down her face, and I assumed that the movie was out of the question. Earl inquired 1f she wished to go to the hospital, she said no, and that was the end of it. Meanwhile, the blood kept flowing and was becoming alarming. I got her a large cup of ice from the concession stand and a bunch of napkins, but the blood kept flowing down her face onto her fur jacket. I think such an event would have been enough to upset many people, but she sat through the movie stoically, mopping her face with tissues, and by the time it was over she had a large cup fu11 of bloody kleenex. Later her face turned the most shocking shades of purple and yellow, enough to frighten small children with a single glance. I was in awe of her that night, refusing to give in, refusing to bend, determined to enjoy her night out despite her mishap.

That's how I think of her, as someone who was extremely tough and strong-minded. There are so many other things I could say about her, but I don't have the time. Marge, you were an inspiration to me in many ways; you gave me many gifts tangible and intangible. I love you and will always miss you.