There’s not much I’m going to be able to say that’s not going to bring tears to your eyes and I apologize for that in advance. The reason for this is simple. Pauline was taken from us tragically too soon. If any one person on this earth deserved to say her final goodbye in the most heavenly, peaceful way, it was Pauline.
There is no justifiable reason for the loss of such a lovely woman. Time may dull the sorrow. And our love and support for one another may help to ease the suffering, but nothing will ever make this ok.
So where do we go from here? I would like to share with you some of my fondest memories of Pauline that I am sure will strike a chord in your hearts and hopefully lift our spirits as we commemorate the life of one of the most positive, joyous, caring, selfless, loving and loved people in our world.
I will start as Pauline started each of her 25 years as a teacher in the Worthington School system. Standing in front of her students, Pauline would adorn this feather boa and declare her classroom a democracy, and with the crown perched upon her head, remind them that she would still be acting as their queen. Fun fact, Pauline was also the Queen of the Transverse Myelitis Association.
Pauline was a teacher through and through and truly cherished working with kids. Especially her own grandchildren. To help distinguish herself amongst the plethora of grandparents, she asked that our kids use the Lebanese word for grandmother, which is Sittie. And there was no better Sittie than Pauline. Leo, Stella, Maceo, Van and Rhys all adored their Sittie. She wasn’t going to let her difficulties with mobility interfere with her relationships with her grandkids. She was the first to crawl on the ground with them and chase them from room to room, building lego sets, swimming through the vast carpet oceans filled with angler fish and whale sharks. Pauline had a passion for reading. And she never missed a chance to read Leo his Star Wars sagas and Stella her favorite Elsa and Anna stories.
And how many other children can boast that they rode through the zoo in the lap of luxury, literally, cruising on Pauline’s lap on her motorized scooter, what our kids referred to as the Sittie mobile.
Pauline loved anything to do with water and the beach. I know her and my Dad were pining for the years to come, when they could take our whole family to a vacation home on the beach. I am so sad that she won’t get to live out that dream.
Pauline was always very conscientious about not wanting to overstep her parenting bounds. She wanted to respect the fact that my brother and I already had a mom and she tried to find a balance on how active a role she was going to have in shaping our adolescence. Those of you who knew my 9-year-old self in 1989 would definitely agree that it took a village. Pauline was as sensitive and sweet a human being that you will ever meet and one cannot help but to treat her with kindness and love in return. Knowing of my legendary status of a grouch upon waking, my brother Aaron and my Dad would enlist Pauline, as the only one who should wake me from my nap if I had fallen asleep before dinner. It was inconceivable to raise your voice to Pauline.
Pauline always put family first. So earlier when I said she tried to find a balance on how involved she felt she should be in our upbringing, it was never from a lack of want. So when she was finally blessed with grandchildren, there was nothing on this earth that could have stopped her from being the best, 100% engaged Sittie to our kids.
As I’ve said, family was always very important to Pauline. She would call home 3 or 4 times every week to talk to her Mom and Dad. She built very special bonds with those dearest to her.
I never corrected people when people would assume I was Pauline’s son, not only because she’s been such a big part of my life for 28 years, more so it was that we had a very special relationship, the kind you have with a mother.
Those motherly instincts truly kicked in when we were driving in the car. No matter if it was me driving or her, if there was the slightest sign of impending danger, she would yell “Yettada” and thrust her arm across my chest, on the off chance I was going to be hurled through the windshield.
And boy oh boy, I am certain everyone in this room knows of her fondness for 2 things: the color purple and chocolate. My brother and I were two of just a handful of Jews in our elementary school. But I can guarantee the chocolate Easter bunnies of our gentile peers, would have paled in comparison to the behemoth Pauline stuffed in our basket each year. And I will never forget her sage advice: No matter what their actual size, when it came to brownies, cookies or anything chocolate, Pauline would always tell us to “Take 2, they’re small.”
Another fun fact about Pauline: she loved fantasy violence. I have a very vivid memory of going to the movie theatre with my Dad, Pauline, and my brother to see Terminator 2. Aaron was 13 and I was 11 at the time. For the sake of the little ones listening, I’ll choose my words wisely. I remember a scene where the bad terminator’s arm morphed into a sword and pierced into the ocular region of another character. I remember looking over to see my Dad and brother covering their eyes and Pauline just smiled at me and said Woah!
Pauline never missed a chance to enjoy culture, especially that of her own heritage. She taught our kids to say Ana Hubik, the Lebanese words for I love you. This became the tradition with her upon leaving. To help keep Pauline, Sittie in our memories, we will continue this tradition with our kids. Pauline, may you rest in peace. Ana Hubik Sittie.