18 February 2014

Tombstone Tuesday: Norma Wilson Garber

My mother, Norma Circe Wilson Garber, was born in Brooklyn, the second child of Joseph Wilson and Tillie Liebross Wilson. Her grave, like her husband's, is marked with a flat marker and does not include the standard Hebrew text identifying the deceased's Hebrew name and date of death on the Hebrew calendar. 

Knollwood Cemetery (now part of Mt. Carmel Cemetery),
Queens, NY. Section 5, Block H, Lot 36, grave 4.
Photo by author, 2 September 2008.
The marker should say (in Hebrew): 
Here lies
Nechama bat Yosef
 19 Ve-Adar 5763 [1]

Her grave is in the Wilson-Garber plot at Knollwood Cemetery (now managed by Mt. Carmel Cemetery, Queens, NY. She is buried near her husband, mother, father, brother (Ira Wilson) and sister-in-law (Lee Urbass Wilson) in the family Wilson-Garber plot. The grave marker states:

APRIL 6, 1921
MARCH 23, 2003  

My mother was very proud of her unusual middle name: Circe. She said it was her uncle Jerry Liebross who suggested that name. Circe the goddess who turned men into pigs.

Norma's early experience at Public School 215 (now known as Morris H. Weiss School) was difficult. The New York City schools at that time were run on a semester rather than a year basis. Norma became ill (perhaps with scarlet fever) and was out of school for two months. The school decided to leave her back one semester. She was mortified and related that the situation cast a pall over her and the household. 

She made that up, however, by later skipping several grades. She graduated in 1937 from Abraham Lincoln High School at the age of 16. Her brother Ira, 3 years her senior, openly worried that his sister might graduate high school before he did. 

After that she went on to New York University where she majored in English and with a concentration in Theater Arts. One summer, she auditioned for a summer stock theater company and was offered a job. Her parents, however, would not let her go away with the troupe. She intended to teach high school English, but upon graduation from NYU in 1941, did not find a teaching job.

During World War II and before she married Bernard Garber on 9 February 1947, she worked as a bookkeeper. 

My mother had, I believe, three miscarriages before she was able to produce my brother. At that time the family lived in Stuyvesant Town, a new post-war development in Manhattan. In 1952 my mother and father followed the post World War II building boom into suburbia and purchased a house. She and my father lived in that house almost 50 years.

Norma was a homemaker. She loved to bake and became well-known for her rich chocolate cake and awesome apple struedel. The chocolate cake was a favorite welcome home treat when we returned from college. Our friends enjoyed it, as well.

Later in life, my mother was the mover and shaker in planning my parent's world travel. My father probably would have been satisfied just staying home, but my mother would set her sights on a hitherto unvisited venue and off they'd go! My father, always enjoyed himself and was a willing participant in the next adventure. 

My father passed away on 9 July 2002. My mother went into steady decline; passing away on 23 March 2003, one day after my daughter's bat mitzvah. 

1.  This is the first grave I've recorded from the Hebrew calendar month of Ve-Adar. So, I needed to look it up. The Hebrew calendar is based on the lunar cycle which is 11 days different than the solar calendar. The lunar calendar is occasionally adjusted in a leap year that adds a second month of Adar. The leap month is called either Adar Sheni (second Adar) or Ve-Adar (and Adar).

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