Dara and James write:
We remember Dara's wonderful grandmother Adelaide Saltman, who died last week at 91. Here is her obituary.
This is a video we made with her just under two years ago, for her 90th birthday.
At last Friday's memorial service, Dara gave a eulogy that touched on some of the other details that made Adelaide a one-of-a-kind. Here is Dara's speech in its entirety:
Grandma was fun. She was not a grandmother where you’d visit her and sit politely and nibble bon bons and chat about the weather. Grandma would embrace you with her infectious laugh. She’d nourish you with her special recipe for eggs and onions and then probe for your take on Obama’s health care bill.
Grandma was politically astute and enthusiastically curious about the world. I always checked in with her about her beloved bi-weekly Thursday discussion group at Loomis. When she told me that she was proud to be the only Israel supporter of the bunch, I sensed that this was not just because she was proud to be Jewish and to support the Jewish homeland, but also because she liked the controversy spurred by her unpopular opinion. She loved debate, and she was always game.
In this, she was very much a product of her time and place. She was born in the Bronx in 1918 and came of age in a New York City bursting with intellectual activity. Though she wasn’t a “fellow traveler” or political radical, a “spirit of the ramparts” imbued her throughout her life: she demonstrated tremendous tenacity, passion, and intellectual rigor. A brilliant, precocious woman, Grandma matriculated at Hunter College, the sister school of the renowned City College for men, when she was 16, and graduated Phi Beta Kappa. She was always very proud of being a Hunter alumna and wanted to attend her 75th reunion last year.
More than most things, Grandma feared losing her intellectual edge. But she had it until the end. As many of you know, Grandma had been very sick several times in the last five years. Last year, we were at her bedside in the ICU. She had been intubated and lethargic for many days. Nurses spoke to her as though she were a baby: “There, there, you’ll feel better now,” they said. When she finally did open her eyes after the tube came out, she blinked, stared at me, and demanded, “How’s your job search?”
Grandma had an endless passion for discovery. Recently, at one of her favorite restaurants, the Student Prince, where she usually ordered gravlax and wiener schnitzel, she exclaimed, “What the hell,” and ordered Clams Casino.
Grandma was hilarious and sharp as a tack, but she was also warm and loving. My husband James always said he feels so fortunate that he was able to know and love her the way I did. Grandma was a beacon for all kinds of people. When we took our daughter Lily to meet her this spring, a priest came to sit with us in the lounge of the nursing home. He had had a stroke, and seemed to want her blessing.
Grandma hung on longer than anyone would have guessed so that we could enjoy her company. She stuck around to challenge us and to keep the conversation alive. Now that she’s gone, it falls to us to keep it alive for her.