Saying Goodbye to My Mother


Louise c. 1944

My mother, Louise, passed away on September 24, 2012. Yesterday, we had a memorial service for her. In the morning, my family and I gathered together at the beach to scatter her ashes. She loved the beach and the sun. After a lovely lunch, we had the memorial service at a synagogue in Hingham. My brothers (Paul and Carl) and I each spoke at the service. It was harder than I thought it would be, but I’m glad I did it. Mixed with the tears, here is what I said:

Hi everyone. Thank you for coming here today to pay tribute to my mom.

I never imagined that I would ever speak at my mother’s memorial service. And, yet, here I am. There are a few things I’d like to share with you. Most of you know how much I loved my mother. What you may not know is how proud of her I am. All through my life, I’ve enjoyed saying, “I’m Louise Katzeff’s daughter.”

She was a character. Filled with spunk and determination, she was a fun-loving spirit and a social butterfly. My friends got a big kick out of her.

When mom was about to graduate from high school, she was asked to join a band as their lead singer. Her mother, Rae, wouldn’t allow it, telling her “You have to do something more practical.” So, Louise went to secretarial school instead and learned the skills that served her well throughout her life. By the time Carl and I were entering high school, mom went back to work and eventually bought a small business, Beacon Secretarial, in Coolidge Corner, Brookline. It was unusual at that time for women to work, and very unusual for women to own and run their own business. So, this made a huge impression on me as a girl. What a great role model.

Even though my mother was not allowed to pursue her dream of singing in a band, she didn’t let that hold her back. Nor did she ever hold me back from pursuing my dreams. I lead a rather unconventional lifestyle. Nonetheless, she always encouraged me to do what brings me happiness. She did worry about me, that’s for sure. She’d say, “You’ve got to get a job with a pension.”

“Mom, they don’t have pensions anymore; they’re called IRAs.”

“Whatever they’re called, get one, and then you can do what you’re passionate about.” The practical mixed with the dream is ok.

There are so many lessons I learned from mom. Even as her dementia progressed in the last year or so of her life, her kindness and sweetness still predominated. No one will ever look at me as mom did. No one will ever listen to my stories as she did. But I have all of these wonderful memories to cherish. During the last few weeks of her life, she’d often turn her head toward me to gaze into my eyes as if she was drinking me in. And I her.

Friends have been telling me that I’ll always hear her voice, and it’s true. I hear her laughing. I hear her singing, “I love you, a bushel and a peck…” “Night and day, you are the one…” “People, people who need people, are the luckiest people in the world…”

Key phrases of hers continue to echo:
“Do what brings you joy, and do it well.”

“Don’t wait to do anything you really want to do, do it now.”

“Stand up for yourself.”

“Thank you darling.”

“You’re wonderful.”

After Peggy and I would give her a spa treatment (which consisted of hand massage, warm compress on her eyes, and a piece of chocolate), she’d say, “You’re angels. I love you.”

When we were kids, she’d say In reference to Carl, “Don’t antagonize your brother.”

To Carl, she’d say, “Don’t hit your sister in the mouth. I’ve got a big investment in those braces.”

Mom would often say to me, “You’re something. I’m so proud of you.” And I’m so proud of her.

Anne and Louise, Thanksgiving 2011.

Donations in Tribute to Louise

Many of you have asked if there is an association or fund to make a donation in tribute to Louise. Please feel free to donate to any appropriate cause in tribute to Louise. We know there are many causes and organizations in need. We have 2 suggestions, listed below.

Alzheimer’s Association

Louise had severe dementia, which is in the group of memory loss. Our family will make a donation to The Alzheimer’s Association ( ) in tribute to Louise and we’ve set up a fund in her name. Donations may be made on-line or by check.

Read Louise’s Story and Donate Online

Donate by phone:  800.272.3900

Donate by mail:
In MA:
Alzheimer’s Association
480 Pleasant Street
Watertown, MA 02472

In NH:
Alzheimer’s Association
Five Bedford Farms Drive
Suite 201
Bedford, NH 03110

Playing for Change

Music was so important to Louise that contributing to a music organization would be a beautiful tribute to her as well. We like Playing for Change and their inspirational mission:

“Playing for Change is a multimedia movement created to inspire, connect, and bring peace to the world through music. The idea for this project arose from a common belief that music has the power to break down boundaries and overcome distances between people. No matter whether people come from different geographic, political, economic, spiritual or ideological backgrounds, music has the universal power to transcend and unite us as one human race. And with this truth firmly fixed in our minds, we set out to share it with the world.”

You can make a donation through the Playing for Change foundation, which is dedicated to creating positive change through music & arts education:

Thank you!


  1. says

    Dear Anne,

    I’m in tears at your beautiful tribute to your dear mother. Thank you for having shared it with us. Now all of us will look at you with just a tiny bit of that special look that she bestowed upon you.

    Love, and deep sympathy,


  2. says

    P.S. My mother also suffers from dementia, so your photos and posts over the past year which so clearly shine forth with your shared love and deep pleasure in each other’s company show me the way. Thank you. xo J

  3. Anne says

    JoJo, what beautiful things you say, thank you! I’m feeling the love. What I tried to do was go moment to moment with mom, and be as much in the present as I possibly could. hugs, Anne

  4. Julia Homer says

    Dear Anne,
    Your tribute is a gift to those of us who knew your mother through your stories. Back then, very few women ran their own businesses. But even now, how many people can both run a business AND sing? One in a million.
    Your words and the wonderful photos are truly inspiring.

  5. Anne says

    Thank you Julia. I think I’ve inherited my mother’s gift of running a business AND singing! You’ve got to have music.

  6. Susan Creditor says

    Dear Anne–your words were just beautiful. How blessed you were to have had such a wonderful mother-daughter relationship and such wonderful memories to hold in your heart.

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