13,695 days ago I stood a few feet from here and watched as my Mother was lowered into the ground while Uncle Zvi’s father, Simcha Shpilner held me so tightly. Now I stand here preparing to lower my wife into her final resting place. Interesting thing is that since I met Debbi exactly 13,999 days ago, she had the opportunity and indeed did meet my Mother, Raizel Bas Yosef Ha Kohen who I am certain is waiting to welcome Debbi, Devorah Michal bas Reuven Shimon v Channah Libbah, with open arms and tell her how she could not have had a more perfect daughter-in-law.
I am sure she will be welcomed as well by her own mother Libby Capin and the Capin’s who came twice to see Debbi at the Cape House just were not able to make the trip again. My Father-in-Law Robert Capin is grieving for both a wife and a daughter and our condolences go out to him, David and Ellen as well.
Debbi and I go way back. Measuring from the day we met, we were together almost 70% of our entire lives. We raised each other. We were there for each other and this Winiker family was there for Debbi too. From the time that Debbi first came to Millis for Passover and Uncle Larry and Uncle Zvi got her drunk at the seder. To the many cousins clubs, Bar & Bas Mitzvahs, Weddings, Brisses and even funerals. Debbi was a true part of this family.
Obviously, she was a true part of my immediate family as well. She was the glue that held us all together. The magic that allowed each of us to be unique, know that we were loved uniquely, and inspired the rest of us to celebrate each other’s uniqueness. To pull that off, Debbi was brilliantly unique. Possessed of a deep capacity to love. Debbi touched and taught each of us.
Debbi was a happy person. Not just happy in the normal definition. Debbi looked at every person she met, found the good in them, and was genuinely happy for them for their good. Not impressed by expressions of wealth or physicality, Debbi peered inside people. She got to know them deeply and she let her true inner self be known by others. Especially she well knew this collection of family and friends gathered here to wish her physical body good bye.
When it came to her immediately family, she spared no effort. She lavished love in a way that I had never thought possible when it came to her children. It came naturally to her but to many others, her talents in this department were outright amazing.
After 7 years of infertility, the fire burning inside her was not extinguished even though she gave birth and raised our wonderful children. Each time we said Hallel, Debbi would be sure to say aloud, for all to hear “Mosheeve Akeres HaBayis, Aym HaBanim Semeycha”… Hashem transforms the barren woman into the happy mother of children. Halleluya.
Several instances arose to adopt children after one or more of our kids were born and Debbi always longed for the opportunity.
Maybe the reason that Debbi’s love was so special was that she spent many of her days with children, her own children and the children she lovingly taught. Children are usually true. They don’t mask their feelings. They let you in. Must be that Debbi saw the beauty in this notion and practiced it 100%. However, she practiced tough love. She set her standards high and made sure that those closest to her measured up.
I used to enjoy going into her classroom and playing with her young ones… but after November of the school year. After November meant that Debbi had already whipped her 3 and 4 year old students into shape and that as long as they knew how to toe the line and behave, Miss Debbi knew she could be absolutely wild with them, inciting the whole class to dance like a maniacs or having the class scream like banshees… she knew that she could have confidence that even with a subtle glance, her young charges would know how to behave appropriately based upon her next command.
In her own family the same held true. Tough Love. High Standards. We followed her example and learned from her. We just could not bear to disappoint her.
At the time of my Mother’s funeral, I remember that we first went to the Ael Chunon Synagogue for the chapel service before coming to this cemetery. During his speech that day, the Rabbi reached over the railing of the Bima and rapped very loudly on my Mother’s casket as he asked, “Who is going to be there to take care of Rae’s boys now that she has gone?” We all know the answer. Our wonderful Winiker family… individually and collectively this family has taken care of Curt, Scott, and I, with help of course from our special spouses, Renee and Nancy, and Debbi, even as we boys have take care of each other.
And so, I am confident that when I ask the question, “Who besides me will take care of my precous children at this time of their great grief and sorrow and for the years to come?… Who will help me take care of my precious gems Rea, Joshua, Aaron & Shira because I do not have the capacity that Debbi had? I know that the answer, just as it was in my case throughout these 38 years, the answer is that our entire extended family will provide love and care.
While the addition of my love for my children to the love of this special Winiker family, and the love of their own friends, the love of Shuie, Stephanie, Katherine, and Leo, and the love among the siblings themselves… all added together… still this will not equal the unique love of their amazing Mother… It will be good. It will be sufficient. It will be have to be enough… but all this will never be equal to the distinctive love of their Mother.
Debbi, even when you were facing a particularly nasty form of cancer you taught those around you. You carried yourself with dignity and confronted every challenge. You even traveled to Israel in February to share in Morty & Rose Landownes’ simcha. Schenker Jack figured out how to get you back and forth as comfortably as possible and you carefully planned your resting times so that you could fully partake in every aspect of the three-day affair.
While you were in Israel you astounded all at the wedding with your grace and composure. You traveled to the Kotel on your birthday to plead for your life. To ask Hashem to spare you so that you could continue your love and caring in this world. You poured out your heart standing there at the Western Wall, begging for Rachmones so that you could live to provide love and comfort and yet we are here today.
You did not hide anything about your battle with your rotten adversary. You wrote a blog entry everyday since March of 2008 and were brutally honest about all your challenges, your advances and you certainly wrote frankly about all your setbacks. You shared it all with your loyal readers.
Even in the midst of your own suffering, you were always reaching out to comfort others. Most of the nurses became personal friends. As proof, we have received email from many nurses whose lives YOU have inspired.
Certainly the VNA nurses, social workers, and aides in Cape Cod who loved you and took the best care of you and taught me and the kids how to provide comforting care for you, they all fell in love with you and with our family. Lyn, Mary, Sue, Margot, and certainly Debbie, they all felt so close to you. You just had that effect on people. And if you could talk now I know you would thank them profoundly.
Debbi, you were my best friend and for most of my life, my only friend. I was so fortunate to have you as my partner and surely I did not even know, and may not truly realize for many years, what a precious diamond I had in my life. My Basherte. My Aishes Chail. Every Shabbos I read Aishes Chail to you as I just did moments ago in Hebrew. In English it begins… A woman of valor, Who can find? Far beyond pearls is her value. Her husband’s heart trusts in her and he shall lack no fortune. She repays his good but never his harm all the days of her life.
This was written by Shlomo HaMelech, King Solomon at the end of the book of Proverbs and is held to be describing Avraham Avinu praising his wife Sarah. It could have been written with you in mind. You were a genuine Aishes Chail. An Ezer Knegdo. You held me and genuinely loved me when I felt all alone. You bestowed upon me these beautiful children who YOU grew into stellar individuals who will spread your love to the next generation including your precious grandson Yonah and grand daughters Sima Ellie & Huvie. Even though you will not be here physically to see any more grandchildren or be able to watch them wade in the tide pools on our beach as you so looked forward to, I am confident that the next generation will be able to know you and benefit from you.
May you be a Meilitz Yeshara for all your descendants and guide them well from above.
My Aishes Chail, She opens her mouth with wisdom and a teaching of kindness is on her tongue. Her husband praises her… Many have amassed achievement, but you have surpassed them all. False is grace. Vain is beauty. A G-d fearing woman… She shall be praised. Give her due credit for her achievements and let her be praised in the Gates by her very own deeds.
This means that her own deeds, the special things she accomplished in her lifetime as embodied by her children and her family are the most eloquent testimony to her virtue.
Debbi, You certainly have earned the right to be Praised by your friends, family, children, and especially by me.
Thank you my special Aishes Chail.
Willie, I will love you forever.