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Suze Orman says a final goodbye to her mother

Suze Orman celebrates her mother's birthday.

Suze Orman celebrates her mother's birthday.

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Updated: October 9, 2012 2:15PM



One would think that writing nine consecutive New York Times best sellers, it would be effortless for me to write an obituary for my own mother. But, alas, it is not. What does one say in a few paragraphs to encapsulate an entire lifetime? Does anyone even care she also is survived by my brothers, Bob and Gary, and Gary’s wife, Bonnie; my mom’s only grandson, Travis Orman, and his wife Jennifer; and great grandchildren, Amanda and Aaron, whom my mom loved more than life itself?

The other night, as we sat vigil over my mother’s bed, my mom’s younger sister, Thelma Notkin — who is 92 and three months ago lost her husband of 70 years — asked me, “Suze, is it hard to see your mom like this?” I honestly answered, “No.” My mom was 97 and in her final years lived the most extraordinary life of anyone I have ever known. So, looking at her small and frail body, all I saw was her beauty and grace as she rested peacefully in her own bed, in her own apartment, surrounded by those who loved her. It was just as she wanted.

What would I want you to know about my mom? My mom was a strong, vibrant woman, who, along with my father, Morry, taught me the three keys to success: An Orman never gives up; 50 percent of something is better than 100 percent of nothing; and always value your own heart.

My mom and dad were so proud to be from the South Side of Chicago. They lived at 8137 Oglesby ’til I left the nest to go to college in 1970, when they moved to Hyde Park. Mom was a legal secretary and could type faster than the wind. I remember being about 10 and clocking her at 120 words a minute. She could take shorthand and repeat back word for word anything I said, no matter how fast I spoke. She also was an Avon rep to help pay the bills, and to this day I have tremendous respect for the many women who do the same.

My dad, well many of you knew my dad. He fed thousands over the years at Morry’s Deli on 55th Street. The lines would go on forever, and I know because I worked there every day after school. When my dad died, hundreds of customers came to his funeral, because he was such a beloved fixture in Hyde Park. Now, 31 years later, there really is no one left but just a very few of us to go to my mother’s funeral and to celebrate her life.

I know Chicago always held a special place in her heart, even though, when she was 90, we decided to move her to Florida. She was so sad to leave, and all she ever talked about was one day being able to go back.

Just before she died she looked at me and asked if she should get dressed to go home. I replied, “Where is home, Mom?”

And, of course, she said, “Chicago.”

Suze Orman has donated her fee for writing this column to Remembering Ann Orman at Hospice by the Sea in Boca Raton, Fla.

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