OLGA CATZEL (nee Awerbach) (17.12.1915 to 25.09.2002)
Obituary read at Memorial service for Olga Catzel
In memory of my dear mother - by her loving daughter, Joan
* I like to remember the days when Mom was very active - busy with bowls, bridge, the "Hatikvah" group, and going for walks or to the beach for a swim with Dad.
* I like to remember the days when she would play all the old popular songs on the piano and we would stand around and sing. And when she taught me first steps in piano playing and helped me write essays for school English class.
* I remember the yummy biscuits and cakes she made. And the delicious meals she made on Johanna's "days-off". I remember all the lovely clothes she knitted and sewed for me. I still have the last cardigan she was busy with when she had the stroke and which I had to complete.
* I remember how wise she was. I remember how she gave me very good words of advice when I had boyfriend problems, how she insisted that I finish Matric when I wanted to run off to Israel and fight the Sinai war, and how she encouraged me to keep on studying at University until I finished my degree when I was despondent with my studies.
* I marvelled at the way she fitted herself into our circumstances here in Israel, sitting on rocks to picnic, clambering up the Ein Gedi desert oasis, diving into the pool, not letting the flies bother her, and riding with us in the back of the jalopity vans of our moshav for long stretches during the summer and without air-conditioning.
* I remember how patient she was with my children - how she played with them, held them, read to them - how she taught my daughters to knit. I admired her for going to Hebrew class so that she would also know their "mame-loshen" and I know they appreciated it too. I will always regret that we were so far away and they saw so little of her. After the stroke, she saw them again 18 years later when they were adults visiting Cape Town for her 60th wedding anniversary at the end of 1997.
I do NOT like to remember the long 21 years of her poor quality of life and sufferings and setbacks as the result of the stroke. Or how her deafness limited her and made communication with the outside world such an uphill battle.
* But I do like to remember how bravely she faced the world - how she made the best of her life doing the things she was still able to do - like reading books, reading our letters and faxes and looking at the photos we sent her of her grandchildren.
* I remember how observant she was and how she used her good eyesight to study the gardens, the flowers and the people around her. She was always interested in news of the world and of our family. She was alert and knew what was going on until the last.
* I like to remember how forgiving, understanding and accepting she was.
* I most like to remember her sense of humour, which she maintained under the most dreary circumstances: circumstances which would have broken most others.
We all have a lot to learn from her courage, determination, attitude and acceptance of life.
Edya, Anat, Doron and I will miss her very much and will cherish her dear memory.
From Raymond (Toronto)
My mother's most outstanding quality was her unrelenting tendency to focus on the good in people. There are so many occasions when we are tempted to have feribles with others because of their actions (or lack thereof). This was particularly relevant during her lengthy illness at Highlands House. They were often very lonely and boring years - filled with terrible pain and discomfort. Many friends and family were conspicuous by their absence during this time - and I knew for certain that had the shoe been on the other foot and they would have been in my mother's position, she would have gone out of her way to visit them regularly.
I occasionally brought up the subject with my mother. On every occasion, without exception, she would respond in the defense of the person discussed: "She or he must have been busy" "They had many problems of their own." Comments of this nature showed how she recognized the difficulties others had in dealing with their own lives. It is a hard act to follow. There are many occasions when I feel people have not behaved according to my expectations and my first reaction is to think of them in a negative light. Then I think to myself: "what would my mother have said?" The reward she enjoyed through her perception of seeing people as well intentioned was the view of a world filled with nice people. What a wonderful way to fall asleep at night perceiving the world filled with such good people.
My mother also had a wonderful sense of humour which helped her (and us) through those difficult years.
In spite of her shy disposition, she was involved in many activities such as bowls, tennis, playing the piano, bridge and fund raising for various causes.
Another quality that my mother had was an impeccable honesty. This was exemplified by an experience that I had with her as a kid. We were traveling in a double decker bus and we were sitting downstairs and as our destination stop drew near the bus conductor was upstairs and had not yet collected our fares. My mother got up ahead of the time in order to climb upstairs to pay the conductor for the ride. What an example to witness as a kid! I am sure that all the members at Keerboom Bowling club must have recognized this quality in her when they would not allow her to step down as treasurer of the club, year after year.
As a mother I will always remember the many hours that we spent together throughout my life discussing any issue on my mind. She was a great listener in spite of her hearing impediment. When people suggested that I was such a wonderful son to visit and communicate with her regularly when I lived so far away - they probably don't realize how much I loved being with her and spending hours talking to her. I shall always miss her very much.