RIP Janet Sherry Dec. 24.,1922-Jan 22,2023 Sunday, New Moon,
Chinese New Year
My Mom loved a good party! She and dad had fun parties. They had dinner parties, costume parties and had some wild cocktail parties with beautiful platters of hor d'oeuvres Mom would prepare. Those were the days of Lipton instant Soup for onion dip, clam dip and cheese and cracker plates, which never did seem to go out of fashion.
Although mom stopped drinking cocktails in her 80's, she still honored the cocktail hour by having her cheese and crackers with grapes every evening before dinner, having her own little party, which she continued for the last decade of her life, even by herself, after dad died in 2013.
She created elaborate birthday parties for her four kids in those early years of our childhoods, with decorations, festive paper plates with matching napkins and cups. She'd place little gifts, which were called 'favors', at every place setting for each of our friends.
She came from that generation where women would all pose like starlets with their knees held demurely together and off to the side, holding themselves with great posture and looking directly at the camera.
Mom contributed to the war effort during WWII while stationed with dad in San Angelo, Texas before he was shipped overseas as a flight instructor, which she absolutely detested...Texas that is, not dad being a flight instructor.
Over the years she told funny stories about her time in Texas, especially about being Jewish on the Army base. It was apparently unusual for people to see a Jewish woman working as the secretary in the base's office there in Texas. And she told funny stories about the many snakes she saw, including the snakes which lived under the stoop of their housing.
One of my favorite snake stories was years later, when they were living in Boca Raton, where they lived together for 35 years and where mom lived for 45 years! One time in Boca, she was about to pick up what she thought was a piece of brightly colored jewelry off the floor of the living room and realized in the nick of time that it was a Coral Snake.
Janet Sherry was a very efficient woman with great style. She managed the complicated schedules of her four children, Linda, Rik, Jane and Brett who were born respectively in 1947, 1950, 1953 and 1963!!
She was also unusual for her generation because although we grew up in a suburb of NYC, instead of being a housewife, she commuted with my father every day to work in his commercial art studio in their Madison Avenue office. She was the secretary, bookkeeper and major domo for him and his staff but she was really the one who kept everything organized and running smoothly. They were a great team.
We kids were lucky to have mom's mother and father, Helen and Ben living with us for many years. Grandma would take care of us, cook for us, and be there after school to give us snacks or tell us to put on a sweater before we went out the door to play! Well, that was mostly grandma telling me to wear a sweater as she took a break from playing cards with her lady friends, all of them chain smoking cigarettes and drinking copious amounts of coffee.
Funny that memory. Mom used to say when she still lived on her own, that she had no interest in playing cards, even though her mother was an avid canasta player. But in her last year and a half in her assisted living home, she became a card shark, where she won at poker and all kinds of card games, the names of which I'd never heard.
Soon before mom and dad left the commercial art business in New York City, they opened up a plant store in our hometown of Roslyn, Long Island, near the famous clock tower there. Mom ran the store and dad consulted for plants for peoples' homes and still worked in the city. Dad always had a green thumb at home and now he put that to great use at their plant store, Earthbound, which always felt like a forest of plants in lush green arrangements.
That was when they first discovered their love for orchids and made some good friends in the orchid community. Their love of orchids traveled with them to Florida. I remember so many phone calls where dad or mom would brag about the new blooms that opened on their orchid plants.
After the plant store business, they left the cold northeast for the warmer climate of Boca Raton in Florida which at the time in 1978 was so newly developed that many of the roads weren't even paved. Brett, who was 15 at the time, went down with them to finish high school in Florida, leaving many of her friends behind and yet she has been able to stay in touch with many of those Roslyn friends for all these years.
Mom was a very social creature and loved hearing stories about her friends and the people she met in business and total strangers alike. She certainly loved telling her own stories about their cruises and their fun times when they lived in Roslyn. When mom and dad first moved to Boca Raton in Florida, they ended up opening a gift shop in Fort Lauderdale called Sherry's Bazaar for a few years. Mom and dad pulled off their work in great style with the items they chose for the store and of course made many new friends along the way.
Mom always kept in touch with those lifelong friends of hers from Long Island, from their cruises, and from their customers, many of whom also ended up living in the Boca Raton area of Florida.
Once mom no longer worked, she segued from throwing parties to enjoying restaurant luncheons with her friends or even by herself in local restaurants. She 'collected' lots of favorite waiters and managers too who all adored her. She'd walk into the restaurant where owners and staff would greet her with a hug and a kiss, where they always knew her preferences and would spend lavish amounts of time at her table chatting. She would always remember the details about their lives and would ask after their families, their children. She always knew who was staying with the job and who'd been offered new ones and were going to move away.
I used to tell mom that she would live to 100 and she would always say, "Oh God, don't say that!". When mom was hospitalized a few weeks before her birthday on Christmas Eve, Linda joked that surely mom was going to hold out for the 100th birthday bash Brett and Jeff were planning for her and sure enough, she rose to the occasion.
She had a great send-off almost exactly four weeks before she left us all behind, departing this life. She was surrounded with love at her party, organized by her youngest daughter, Brett and Brett's husband, Jeff and all but two of mom's grandchildren and all but one of her great grandchildren were there too to celebrate with her! You can see how utterly thrilled she was to be surrounded by her loving family, with a huge smile that has echoed through so many of the dozens of photographs in her century long life.
What a blessing for Mom to be on the planet for a century of life and 70 years of loving the same man! Such a privilege to be surrounded by so much love before the end of her life and throughout her final days.
Mom valiantly faced one health crisis after another in the last year and a half. She had such determination, she wasn't going to let her infirmities stop her from continuing onward and mustered up the strength to somehow keep recovering, overcoming great pain and challenges.
Janet Sherry, our mother, died in hospice care on Sunday, January 22, 2023, in the dark hours of the morning on the new moon, the first day of the Chinese New Year of the Rabbit. Her death came after a life well lived and a full century of adventures. She always gathered her friends around her and kept life long friendships longer than can be imagined.
We girls remember times of laughing hysterically at some silly thing, each of us feeding one another's laughter until we'd be practically crying tears of hilarity. Brett tells me she's continued that tradition with her own girls!
Mom, like Dad, had a great sense of style and would never venture out without first having matching jewelry, hand bags and color coordinated clothing. And on her last day on the planet, Brett facetimed with Linda and me showing us Mom in her bed in the hospice. She was curled up sleeping peacefully and someone had put her hair in a ponytail with a pretty band and I realized even in death, she looked fabulous, dressed in her prettiest nightgown.
Regardless of the ups and downs of relations between mothers and their children, once they have departed, one cannot help but feel a terrible and strong sense of a huge void opening up; something deep and meaningful is missing, no longer there.
Mom will be missed by her children, her six grandchildren, her five great grandchildren as well as her few friends who are still happy to be alive and a host of new friends she made in her assisted living facility Sonata Boca and the dozens of waiters and restaurant chefs, owners and managers she befriended in the 45 years she lived in Boca.
She is survived by her children, Linda Sherry, Rik Sherry, Jane Sherry, Brett Northrop and her grandchildren Jesse Sherry, Nick Mulrean, Nicole Walter Kahhan, Micah Sherry, Katie Northrop Niday, Ryan Northrop, and her great grandchildren Emma Sherry, Hannah and Nate Sherry the twins, Leighton Sherry and Brenna Walter.
RIP Janet Sherry 12.24.1922-1.22.2023