When Goldie Steinberg died on August 16, 2015 she was aged 114 and the oldest verified Jewish person in the world.
Mrs Steinberg (neé Gurfinkel), born in Kishinev, had survived the town’s infamous pogroms of 1903 and 1905. She emigrated with her two sisters to the United States in 1923, became a seamstress and married a jeweller, Philip Steinberg in 1932. He died in 1967 and the couple had two children, four grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. She died at the Grandell Rehabilitation and Nursing Centre in Long Beach, New York.
Was it supposed to be like this?
The shaded sun at ninety-two
more fiercely robust than was
I ever – even in my prime!
Here I rest. A desiccated
cliché, half forgot – dazzled
by the glare from life’s fading flash,
yet captive to its mopish melody.
Should it be this way?
Too hot, too cold; no day, no
month quite right; but all the same.
Another week’s fled so fast.
Sabbath’s here again.
For this final ‘now’ I survived
mass slaughter secreted in a
stranger’s house? Withstood
a revolution, two world wars,
sailed a depthless sea?
Seasoned seamstress though
I be, life’s unravelled, jagged,
somewhat frayed; a weary round:
‘Knit one, pearl two. Sit up, dear.
How many sugars in your tea?’
Should I feel like this?
Burdened, not upraised by one
hundred plus fourteen pillared years
that overarched a century and more.
Now it it’s time for me to go. I want
to be free.
© Natalie Wood (22 September 2015)