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Sue Weisman 1910-2012

Earlier this week, my astounding grandmother, Sue Weisman, passed away just a couple weeks shy of her 102nd birthday.

She led an amazing life that saw the world change in amazing ways. There are hundreds of stories. Stories her of growing up on New York's lower east side with five older brothers, two younger sisters (all gone now) and the restaurant that her father owned and her Yiddish-speaking mother ran, stories of the three young girls in their pretty dresses driving back from New Jersey with liquor hidden under the seat. There are stories of her meeting and marrying my grandfather Aaron Weisman and moving to Chicago during the days of Frank Nitti, of whom she had - from personal experience - a very negative view. There are stories of moving to Los Angeles and Beverly Hills in the fifties. And stories of her over 40 years as a volunteer at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

But mostly, there are stories of her family: her three children, eight grandchildren and TWELVE great-grandchildren, not to mention numerous, spouses, nieces, nephews, cousins, etc. She was a most astounding matriarch, and she will be missed.

But the truth is she's been missed for quite some time. She was with us and WITH IT right through and past her 100th birthday. But in the months that followed, I firmly believe she decided she was done. Somewhere inside her, she flipped a switch and was gone, even though her physical body hadn't received the memo. She hasn't been herself in over a year, and her finally passing is, I believe, a blessing.

I think that's why it's taken me so long to write this. I'm trying to get my head around my LACK of response to this loss. Its hard not to think that there must be something wrong inside me not to feel worse - let alone... anything. Maybe it'll hit me later. The entire Weisman clan is gathering next week on what would have been her 102nd birthday, not to memorialize her but to celebrate her life. And I'm looking forward to it - even if (or maybe especially if) it results in the death finally hitting home. (Heck, I thought writing this might trigger something, but no.) Mostly, I think the culprit is that the mourning for me took place some time ago. It began when she made the decision to stop going to the theater with me and the kids. We had a subscription to A NOISE WITHIN, a classical theater company here in the Los Angeles area, and she enjoyed it thoroughly, even as her hearing deteriorated, making it increasingly difficult for her to follow what was going on. But I was still stunned when she chose not to accompany us any longer. And bits and pieces of her faded away from there. Our last real conversation was extremely frustrating for both of us. She thought I was my father, even though my father was sitting just a few seats away. And she kept asking me how "Sam" was - when none of the rest of us assembled could figure out WHO Sam was. Finally, something else she said finally made me realize she was talking about my son Benny. But even when I offered up that name, she didn't recognize it. At the very end, she couldn't recognize anyone. So perhaps I was overly prepared for this eventuality. Perhaps one day when I least expect it, it will knock me for a loop. But not today.

In the meantime, join me in celebrating a wonderful lady and a great broad: Sue Weisman.