To all my family and friends who came to my Mother's Memorial Serivce and all those who extended their condolences - Thank you. Ilania
Life is too short
By: Halina Abileah*
Life is too short
To spoil it with bad word,
To quarrel and shout
With voice so loud.
Life is to give,
To laugh not to grieve.
There is always blue sky,
Somewhere if you try.
So why should we cry?
Why should we swear?
To spoil the hemisphere?
For peace all world prays,
For quiet happy days.
So why spoil peace worlds
With hatred filled words?
With red ink for glory
I said I am sorry.
So lets love take hold
And forget what was told.
No nagging, no irony,
Just little sympathy
For both you and me
How good could it be!
This is my swan’s song
So don’t read it wrong.
* Found in my Mother’s hand-written notes and read during her Memorial Service, May 5th, 2003, at Hotel Ramat Aviv, Tel-Aviv, Israel.
A Trip to Israel
by: Ilania Abileah
Last Month, I received a dreaded phone call… My mother Halina (Hala) Abileah has passed away, after years of constant pain, and grief. My mother instructed me to respect her wishes: NO FUNERAL and NO MOURNING. She also requested that after she is gone, I would salvage her drawings, poems, and family photos.
Halina Abileah was a talented, intelligent, accomplished woman, with a sharp sense of humour, which she kept till the end. She would have liked to be remembered beautiful, energetic, charismatic, elegant and graceful. She was a successful fashion designer and always argued that fashion design IS ART!
How does one accept a termination of an 87-year lifetime without the closure provided by the traditional customs? I departed for a 3-plane, 25-hours long trip in order to fulfill my Mother’s wishes.
I arrived to the news about bomb incidents. These incidents were almost a daily occurrence. On the eve of “Holocaust Day”, all restaurants and entertainment venues close. Israeli television broadcast quality documentary films and interviews with survivors, lest we forget. The next morning the sirens bring everything to halt and the whole nation shares the memory of those lost.
The week after, it is national Memorial Day, which also starts with the evening closure of all entertainment. A siren at 8 p.m., commands a moment of silence in memory of all those lost in battles. All cars stop, any newcomer who is unaware and continues moving, is chided by fellow citizens “Are you in a hurry?” There are concerts all over the country featuring songs about the ravages of war. When a singer terminates a song, he quietly walks away. There is no Applause.
My Mother’s Memorial Service took place (May 5th) on the eve of Memorial Day*. As I finished showing an overhead slide presentation, celebrating my mother’s life achievements, the siren started. Thus, my Mother, who served in the British Air force, during World War II, received a moment of silence with the whole Israeli nation.
Then comes Independence Day. The celebrations are joyous, full of song, dance and laughter. Public stages are mounted, with multiple dance troupes in ravishing, colourful costumes dancing in circles. Partying continues into the wee hours of the night. Those who do not party join friends to watch fireworks and TV entertainment together. The talents featured in these productions are absolutely superb.
The next morning, there are family BBQ gatherings. I joined a family gathering in the shade of giant, old Eucalyptus trees. They brought food and other stuff, including hammocks, and… of course, a huge watermelon. The jokes were flying around, shoulders were slapped and children slumbered in hammocks or made drawings (with my Mother’s pastels.)
Children are encouraged to pursue cultural activities. Art is fused into daily life whether it is high art or folklore. Israelis sing from a very tender age. They revere their artists. In Tel-Aviv, one can attend at least two cultural events almost every day of the year. This does not mean that Sports is not important. Indeed, last year I have attended a sing-along evening concert, and the concert was stopped to announce: “We won over the Russians” (in the Pan European Football Soccer ball match).
It seems that Israelis found the right balance for a healthy spirit in a healthy body. The Panorama (Sea Shore drive) from Jaffa to the north of Tel Aviv, is decked with small restaurants serving the “daily catch” and salads blended with fine herbs and spices. And the sunset appears as a great red ball in the sky… It is such a magnificent sight to behold.
Yes, Israelis are stressed. But they survive, with creativity that results in world-class art. Theatre, concert halls and Opera houses are full. In addition to music and dance performances, there are wonderful music festivals in lovely spots (on the way to Jerusalem and in the Galilee).
I took an afternoon to visit the Museum of Tel Aviv, which featured retrospective collections of prominent Israeli artists. This was a wonderful inspiring treat. The image shown here is one of Mordechai Ardon’s (1896-1992). Ardon was fascinated since childhood with the concept of time, the past, cultural heritage and eternity. **
This week I put up an exhibit containing work inspired by my heritage. Since I inherited my talent from my Mother, I have included her in it – Mother and Daughter sharing the same space. This is yet another way of saying farewell to Mama.
* On Memorial Day, Israeli families visit the graves of their loved ones. It is a pilgrimage, (the heaviest traffic day of the year.)
** You may wish to look this museum up on Internet http://www.tamuseum.com