My mother was not perfect. Stubborn—at times self-centered, the lady was, if nothing else, honest. Indeed, to my knowledge, she lied to me but once.
It was 1963 in the parking lot—Cedar-Taylor Optical–we were discussing her marriage. “Your Dad moved out,” she said, “But only for a while.” This, of course, was untrue, (unless “a while” can be defined “forever”).

Her comment, to be sure, was borne of concern, of need to protect…and it was what I needed to hear at that time. Elaine Delores Hoffman Bogart (86 Bogart) Lerner Turner was but the first of many to love and nurture me. In the years that followed, while remaining my father’s son, I also stayed coachable…gleaning lessons from a myriad of beautiful women

Cele Porter was our mother’s mother. First of the food chain born in the States, she married twice. Husband Harry, (my granddad), died in ’49 to be followed by Irv Porter. Cele, having lived through The Great Depression, wanted more for her kids. As such, our Mom out did her, marrying thrice. To this day, though, I
close my eyes and picture Grandma Cele’s apartment, filled to the brim with aunts, uncles, cousins…of Seders and Chanukah parties. Flipping memory’s screen I see her wading in the pool at The Riviera, tongue deeply imbedded in her false teeth…ready, willing and able to splash her six grandchildren at play. The water was never too cold for Cele Porter.

Our Dad’s mom was different…of a different world. Gladys (nee Baronovich) Bogart hailed from Lomza, Poland. Educated, devoted to Judaism, accepting of almost anything, she rarely rocked the boat. Except once: It was the second Seder. South Euclid’s Little League had scheduled a managers’ meeting and our was ripping through the service. “Albert,” she admonished her grown son (with that Russian-Polish edge), “They would never have a meeting on Good Friday.” “Ma, please,” whined my father, sitting and slowing his pace, and pouting.

My college years brought two new faces. Junior year, I fell for The Jersey Girl and met HER mom. Lil Selzer, raised in the Jewish aristocracy of rural western Pennsylvania, would some day be my mother-in-law. I cherish not only her memory, but the lesson of her steadfast devotion to family.

Enter Harriet.

Experts said there would be a man on the moon before our father’d fall in love again. They were right. And so it was that in autumn, ’69 we met our Harriet
So smitten was the old man that he summoned Marilyn to make Chanukah latkes for a planned impromptu introduction to his future. (And ours). Decades after our meeting at 20 East 14, she continues to weave the lesson of family.

But it all started, (I’m reminded this Mothers Day), with our Mom.

“Just remember, Buddy Boy,” she’d tell us, “After I’m gone you’ll only have each other.” If she said it once, she said it a thousand times. “After I’m gone, there’ll only be the two of you….Remember that!”

Elaine Turner closed her eyes in April, 2009. Her last years were spent watching Bruce and Hal, two boys from Hopkins Avenue, Cleveland, clearly loving each other. My gut tells me that, having seen this, she saw no further reason to live. My heart tells me, seeing this, she died happy.

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