Thursday, September 15, 2016

Remembering Rena - Growing Up in Rural Upstate New York

Rena in Elementary School and at High School Graduation
As recounted here  our daughter Rena died on the morning of September 11, 2016, at the age of 49. As discussed here I am remembering Rena daily for a week in a virtual  "Sitting Shiva", the traditional Jewish custom of relatives and friends devoting seven days to specially remembering the deceased.  

This is the third posting in the series. Please join us in keeping Rena foremost in your thoughts this week, and, if you wish, posting your special memories in a Comment to this Blog. 
Welcome to rural upstate Newark Valley, NY in 1965, and a modest farmhouse, part of which dates back to the late 1800's. Looking west in this photo, our house and three barns behind it sat on 88 acres, including all the land you can see left of the dirt road named "West Newark Crossroads. To the far left, beyond the edge of the photo, is our eastern border, the West Branch of the Owego Creek. Vi and I moved here from Scotch Plains, NJ, with our infant daughter Lisa, when I took a job at IBM Federal Systems in Owego, NY, 12 miles south. The farm came with a dog, Trixie and an unnamed cat. Fortunately, our neighbors, many of them dairy farmers, took pity on we greenhorns, two Jewish college grads from Brooklyn, and helped us survive and  even thrive in this new environment for us..


Way back in 1967, at the hospital where Rena was born, she was one of the very first where they permitted the father to be present. I was privileged to stand at the open door of the delivery room and marvel at the miracle of her birth as she took her first breaths and delighted us all with her hardy and healthy cries. And how competently my wonderful wife  performed her part in that event!

Excerpts from the detailed account Vi wrote the day after:

It’s a girl! 7 lbs 9 oz – 20 1/2”, born at 11:39 PM on May 23. This has been a fantastic and wonderful experience. … We had an hour ride from our house in Newark Valley to Robert Packer Hospital in Sayre, PA. Therefore, after having had such a fast labor with Lisa our first little girl, we had several false alarms. … I was just concerned we would wait too long to start to the hospital and arrive as three instead of 2 ½ people.

Well, Tuesday was quite a day. That morning, at 5 AM, the phone rang and Ira was called out in his capacity as volunteer fireman to a fire on Park Settlement Road in Owego. My poor husband was so tired – he also had a class at IBM from 7-8:30 AM and after work a Toastmasters International meeting until 8:30 PM.

At 7:30 PM, I felt that the contractions had suddenly changed in character and I had to start with the transition breathing [of the Lamaze method]. So I called my husband at the Deep Well Restaurant in Owego [before cellphones, so Vi had to call the restaurant and they had to find me in the meeting room] and asked him to come right after his Toastmasters meeting. And I started to time the contractions. They were coming every six minutes and lasting for 45 seconds. When Ira came home we got Lisa ready and took her over to our neighbors to spend the night. I called the Doctor and told him I felt this was it tonight. …

We arrived at the hospital at 10 PM. I was admitted at 10:15 PM and I even told the nurse I thought we would have to go home because it had stopped, but to take a look anyway. I had thought that with all of the contractions I had had for the past three days I would be 3-4 cm dilated. I was judging this from Lisa’s birth two years ago. Well, the intern examined me and he confirmed it. …

Dr. Corner arrived and the minute he heard me doing the panting he rushed those nurses in to prep me. … When Dr. Corner examined me at 10:50 PM he said I was 6-7 cm dilated. He was marvelous. I had told him about doing it the Lamaze way and he was very enthusiastic. He had done it before in Baltimore but hadn’t had the opportunity to do it up here yet. Ira stood at the doorway to the delivery room and watched Rena Susan born. Dr. Corner left the door open and Ira was able to see everything.

Dr. Corner had to break the bag of waters in the delivery room. And everything went very fast after that. Dr. Corner didn’t leave my side from the time he examined me at 10:50 PM. He coached me and continually kept me informed. I think the nurses were very good – they had instructions not to give me anything unless I wanted it and they didn’t harass me in any way.

But I surprised everyone including (especially!) me because I was in that hospital for only one hour and 24 minutes before she was born. …

I find the Lamaze method to be excellent. It gives you something to do which is physically and mentally helpful. Dr. Corner was extremely pleased with the results and I am ecstatic. My only complaint is that you feel so good afterwards, you can’t go to sleep.

Remember the old “mimeograph”? Well, I composed Rena’s birth announcement as a mimeograph page that folded in fourths.

The first page was titled:

The mimeographed birth announcement for Rena folded into four pages.
The report included the following news:
The birth of a lamb at GLICKSTEIN FARMS is a common enough occurrence, but the birth of a baby deserves special notice:
MISS RENA SUSAN GLICKSTEIN - This young lady was born at 11:39 PM on May 23 at ROBERT PACKER HOSPITAL, Sayre, PA. …
Our Farm assets were listed on the second page:
Continuing assets: IRA, VI, & LISA (Proprietor, wife, and daughter) - TRIXIE & CAT (dog and cat)
Acquisitions: ANNE, BLANCHE, & CLARA (Ewes) – BULL & HEIFER (Black Angus bull and heifer)
Births: DELI (Ewe lamb to BLANCHE) – EVA& FRANCINE (to ANNE) – GLORIA & MARY (to CLARA)
RENA SUSAN (Daughter to VI & IRA, sister to LISA)
The aback page included a poem:
A POEM FOR RENA SUSAN – To enrich our souls and to nourish our lives / RENA SUSAN has come to a family which thrives. / As a gift of God to uplift our years / You have come to us to fulfill our prayers. / May you find great strength in mind, heart, and life / As a good Jewish girl and a good Jewish wife.
At an extremely young age, Rena and Lisa witnessed the eternal cycle of life  – and – death.
The birth of lambs – and – the passing of a ewe and how we bottle-fed her lambs in the house, creatively named “Lamb chops” and “Leg-ga” – and – the natural carnivorous food chain.
As noted above, both Vi and I spent our entire childhood, including high school, in urban Brooklyn. She graduated from Brooklyn College (Bachelors in Chemistry) and I from City College (Bachelors in Electrical Engineering). During our farm years, both sets of parents lived in Brooklyn.
On their first of many visits, Vi’s parents Clara and Gilbert Stark, were amazingly accepting of the rural life and livestock that Vi and I adopted. My parents, Ruth and Morris Glickstein, were also very supportive of our new lifestyle. 
By the time Rena was born, May 23, 1967, our farm boasted a growing number of livestock, including three Ewes, five Ewe lambs born on our farm, plus a young Black Angus Bull and a Heifer.
LEFT: Welcoming Vi's parents to our barnyard. You can see some of our sheep at the far left rear of the photo. The people, left to right are, Clara Stark, Vi's mother; Vi's dad Gilbert (holding Lisa); Vi (holding infant Rena); and the "gentleman farmer" himself, Ira. Our dog Trixie is in front of us. 
RIGHT: Welcoming Ira's parents. The people, left to right, are Lisa, (held by Ira's dad, Morris Glickstein); and  Rena (held by Ira's mom, Ruth). If you compare this photo with the one above, you can see the enclosed porch, one of the first of a number of projects my dad completed with my help..

A few years after Rena's birth, her younger sister, Sara, joined us to complete our family: Lisa, Rena, and Sara. (We figured out what was causing it and I got a vasectomy :^) The children had a great time, summer and winter.
TOP: Left to right, Rena, Sara, and Lisa enjoying the sand and water of our farm pond. With the help of the New York State Extension Service, we built a quarter-acre farm pond on the hill behind our house, with a small  beach area at the north end.
BOTTOM: Sara, Rena, and Lisa having lots of fun sledding in the snow. (Unlike Brooklyn, where the snow turns gray on the second or third day, upstate New York snow stays pure white for weeks or months.)


Left to right: Sara (held by Vi); Rena and Lisa (standing in front of Clara); Morris, Ruth, and Gilbert. (The birdhouse atop the pole was a gift constructed by Grandpa Morris)
Rena's elementary school years went by very fast and are like a blur in my mind. First at Newark Valley, then, when IBM sent me on a California assignment, several months in the San Fernando Valley area north of Los Angeles. Upon our return to New York, we sold our old farmhouse and the land near the house and barns (but kept 60 acres and the pond up the hill). We moved to a more modern home in nearby Apalachin, on only 5 acres.


The photo below, of Rena and her High School Prom date, Tom Myers, was emailed to David and Vi when I was informed Tom would be visiting Rena to say goodbye just a few weeks before she passed away. Some of the other photos and text in this posting was also provided and I believe Rena saw it and it gave her some comfort. 

All ready for High School Prom (Left to right: Ira, Rena, Tom Myers, and VI).
Rena graduated from the Owego Free Academy. Here are the memories of her high school years in contemporary accounts from some fellow graduates.

Ira Glickstein

NOTE:  This is the third of our virtual  "Sitting Shiva", the traditional Jewish custom of relatives and friends devoting seven days to specially remembering the deceased.

September 11, 2016 - Rena passed away
1) September 12, 2016 - Rest In Peace Rena Moyers, Our Adult Child Who Passed Before We Did
2) September 13, 2016 - Mr.and Mrs. David and Rena Moyers - Their Wedding (and Drama Afterwards)
3) September 14, 2016 - Remembering Rena - Growing Up in Rural Upstate New York
4) September 15, 2016 - Remembering Rena - Education and Professional Life - Tale of Three Shirts
5) September 16, 2016 - Mourner's Kaddish for Rena Moyers
6) September 17, 2016 - Remembering Auntie Rena - Five Nieces and Nephews
7) September 18, 2016 - Remembering Rena - We Will Remember You FOREVER

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