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Over 60 ... And Getting Younger: November 3, 2011

What Is Really, Truly, Important?

I have just returned from a memorial celebration for my niece, Marla Silver. Marla died at age 48 after a yearlong bout with esophageal cancer. It was a tough fight, but at the end, the cancer was the victor.

The memorial celebration was held on Oct. 29 at the London Grove Friends Meeting House in Pennsylvania. I had never been to a Quaker Meeting House before. The benches were of unvarnished wood, but the service was direct and sincere. Actually, Marla herself planned the entire program, although she did not plan the weather: huge snowflakes covered the trees and the ground.

However, over 350 people (friends, family and acquaintances) gathered, from all over the United States to testify for the love they felt for this 5-foot-1 barrel of dynamite. No president, senator or congressman ever had a more heartfelt or spiritual send-off than this gathering at a modest Quaker Meeting House.

First there were opening spiritual remarks from the congregation. Next there was family testimony from Marla’s husband Scott, her sister, Dana, and my brother-in-law, Larry Silver. Not a dry eye remained in the congregation. Marla’s spirit filled the room.

The emphasis of every speaker was love, family and friends. Marla had set the stage. Her Syracuse University college and hiking chums spoke of her kooky but loving experiencing while climbing mountains and sleeping on the ground in skimpy tents. They made us laugh through our tears.

She always worked in rehab and therapy positions as a social worker. All of her co-workers came and spoke of her amazing treatment of the under privileged and the compromised of our society. Marla, with her bright personality and winning style, affected both her clients and the community she served.

As her uncle, I never knew the depth of her impact on the world. My two sons traveled from NYC to be at the memorial celebration. Three hundred and fifty people came together in an October nor’easter to say so long to their little pal, Marla Silver.

Her twin children, Ethan and Erin, were showered with love by the entire group. She had a very difficult time conceiving but with fortitude and guts the children were born to a loving Scott and Marla.

I was also struck by the solemnity and earnestness of the memorial tribute. Marla had planned it all. Her smile and being radiated throughout the meeting house. It was indeed a shame that her life was cut short by cancer.

She touched a whole universe of good people in her short but meaningful life. So long, Marla!