Monday, March 11, 2013

Janet D. Rothenberg-February 17, 1932-March 7, 2013 12:20am FOREVER IN MY HEART

Janet D. Rothenberg-February 17, 1932-March 7, 2013 THURSDAY MARCH 7, 2013 12:20am My world is very dark. My best friend and my mother passed away at 12:20am while I was holding her hands and stroking her face. She had this FUCKING disease called Alzheimers that robbed her of so many years. I am lucky that she was my mom and my best friend-there was nothing I couldn’t talk to her about-and we used to talk on the phone everyday. When I decided I wanted to move to NYC in early 1999, quitting a staff job that I had for 12 years, everyone thought I was making a mistake, except her. My life changed because of that move-my photo career took off and like my mom who married her best friend and they were together for almost 65 years (married almost 62), I too married my best friend. My world was a better place for having her as my mom and friend. I don’t know if I will ever be able to smile or laugh again, but I do know she is now at peace. I LOVE YOU MOM, FOREVER ROTHENBERG - Janet, of Fort Lee, and formerly of Fair Lawn, NJ, and Philadelphia died on March 7, 2013 at the age of 81. She loved the songs of Jacques Brel, the plays of Eugene O'Neill, the singing of Frank Sinatra, the food of Il Cantinori, the capitals of Europe, and the politics of Franklin Roosevelt. But most of all, she loved her husband Marvin J. Rothenberg, whom she met when they were teenage summer camp counselors; the four children they raised together in Fair Lawn; their six grandchildren; and a social circle as big and open as her heart. Jeanette Dorothy Fives was born February 17, 1932 in northeast Philadelphia, the first child of Manuel Fives and the former Frieda Portnoy, who fled the pogroms and raised their four children surrounded by many loving aunts, uncles, and cousins. In an early display of restless independence, while still a schoolgirl Jeanette changed her name to the more modern Janet. Jan was inquisitive: Unable to attend university after graduating from Olney High School, she started William Paterson College when her children ranged from eight to 14, graduated in four years, and began a career as a high school English teacher immediately thereafter. She was brave, enduring the catcalls of neighbors to march against the Vietnam War long before it had become a broadly unpopular endeavor. She was compassionate, organizing a physical rehabilitation program for the impaired son of another member of the B'nai Israel synagogue's Sisterhood. She was ambitious, earning a master's degree from New York University at age 60 and starting a second career in arts education, managing the Doing Art Together program at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, then a third career as producer of the off-off-Broadway musical "Kurt Weill on Broadway." As Jan joins the Fair Lawn friends and Philadelphia family who passed before her, she leaves behind her beloved Marv, her best friend for 64 years; her children and their spouses, Debra Rothenberg and Philip Carvalho, Stuart and Talya Rothenberg, Craig and Diane Rothenberg, and Randall Rothenberg and Susan Roy; grandchildren Elana, Dania, Jake and Matty Rothenberg and Dylan and Lauren Rothenberg; brothers Marvin Fives and David Fives and sister Ilene Kaplan and their families; and many cousins. Jan lived the American Dream: Born poor in the Depression, she grew to enjoy a culturally, intellectually, and emotionally rich life, whose enthusiasms she shared willingly. Although she can no longer sing along to the Milkman's Matinee or drive her offspring to fencing matches, lacrosse games, and drama rehearsals, she lives on in her grandchildren, who inherited her good humor and kind heart. Memorial donations, if desired, can be made to the Alzheimer's Foundation of America, 322 Eighth Ave., 7th Fl., New York, NY 10001; The Jewish Home at Rockleigh, 10 Link Drive, Rockleigh, New Jersey, 07647; or the Kaplen Adult Reach Center, Kaplen JCC on the Palisades, 411 East Clinton Ave., Tenafly, NJ 07670. My best friend has always been my mom. How many people can honestly say that? There hasn’t been anything I haven’t been able to talk to her about. I am so lucky to have known her, and had her as my mother and my best friend. She taught me strength, independence, never to give up, to be compassionate and passionate. you know what I am talking about. Some of the best comments I have heard from friends throughout my life have been “I love your mom. She makes me feel important, and I don’t feel important.” “Coming over to your house in high school-your mom always made me feel like an adult-she never spoke to me as if I was a dumb 16 year old kid” “I always loved coming to your house-I lost my mom when I was young and she treated me like I was her 5th child.” We could talk for hours, about anything and everything. She was my harshest critic, and my biggest fan. Her motto of “never give up, never quit” became my motto, and is the reason I am where I am today. Family. She LOVED family. It was the most important thing to her. ..and her friends were her extended family. I always called them “The Big Chill Grown Up” because they were such a tight knit group. The GREATEST love story ever. They met in the late 1940's, when she was 16, and he was 18. It was love at first sight for him-and can you blame him? She was beautiful. At first she didn't like him, but that didn't stop him from chasing and courting her, until one day, she fell in love with him. He gave her his class ring, and then an engagement ring. They married young-she was 20, and he was 22. 4 years later, they had their first child, a son, followed by 2 more sons and then a daughter-me. She never went to college and when she made up her mind to go, as an adult and a mother of 4, it was important that her youngest (me) not come home to an empty home after school so she waited until I was late in my Junior high school years and involved in sports to keep me busy after school. She got her Bachelors, went on to teach high school English and then went on to her Master's from the Gallatin school at NYU-with a curriculum she designed herself. Both loved to travel, and went all over the world. My dad always took photos, thousands upon thousands of images using his favorite slide film-Kodachrome. If you wonder where my love of making photographs comes from, it is from my dad, as well as my mom who was a lover of the arts-ALL arts. I never had a celebrity or sports figure as a hero. I never believed in that nor needed that, because my true heroes have ALWAYS been my parents. The love they have shown my brothers and myself and their grandkids, their friends, and all of my friends throughout the years is what a hero is. TRUE LOVE.


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