Monday, October 1, 2012

Florence Miller Drossin Bellans

I was reminded last night from a dear cousin-in-law that today marked the anniversary of the passing of my Grandmother-in-Law, Florence. I'm behind on just about everything in my life, but it wouldn't be right not to share a little bit about her today. She was a remarkable woman and someone I admired and loved.

You can't tell stories about Florence without talking about Ethel. They were twins, but really, they were more than that. Seemingly two parts of a whole. Sisters who throughout their lives would live together, raise children together, finish each others sentences. The stories I've heard are reminiscent of characters in a fairy tale, twin girls with their doting older brother, running thru fields, Florence the Bold, charging ahead and clearing the way for her more delicate other side, Ethel. I looked through many, many photos trying to find a few to document some of the high-points in Florence's life. In over half, there, right next to her, is her sister. I've become pretty good at telling them apart as they got older, but I have no idea which was the young Florence and which the young Ethel, so I include both portraits here, taken in approximately 1924, when the girls must have been around 10 years old.

Florence's family immigrated to the United States from Russian during the progroms, when Jews were experiencing vicious and widespread anti-Semitism. They settled on the East Coast. At some point during the Great Depression, Florence and her sister went to live at Sunrise Collective Farm. It was sort of an attempt at creating a Kibbutz in Michigan as I understand it. Florence called it a Socialist farm but we enjoyed teasing her that she was a Communist. It was here that she met the love of her life, Jack Drossin. Diminuative herself at barely over 4' 7" tall, she would always tell me how big, tall, and warm he was. I think her memories from these days in her early 20s were among her fondest.

Florence loved her family. She loved her parents, Rebecca and Nathan dearly. She was close to her beloved brother, Joe, her entire life and even helped to raise one of his daughters after the untimely passing of his wife. She loved her children, her nieces and nephews, her grandchildren, her great nieces and nephews and her great-grandchildren passionately. They were all exceptional, beautiful, talented and perfect in her eyes.

Honestly, I've not even begun to tell Florence's story here. There are so many things that she loved and sadly, I don't have the time to tell them all.

I'll end by simply saying that I loved the woman. From the first day I met her, 81 one years old, standing on my kitchen table, changing a light bulb in my chandelier.

Florence, today I hope that somewhere your tea is the right temperature (I was never, ever clear on what that temperature should be you know) and that your toast has a lot of crunch. I know how you feel about crunch. I hope you're getting it.

P.S. The note above, from Jack, was something I shared earlier because it just about broke my heart to find it with her things earlier this year. If you would like to see the detail, you can find it here.