Page 20 - December2018
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grandmother’s life reminds us it is not all fate. How things pivot depends crucially on the individual. Their values, their efforts, their attitudes.
My mother taught me that the way one conducts oneself matters. In notifying people of her passing, I have noticed one consistent thing ... the less distinguished the person, the more they wept. It was the valet in the building, the woman who washed her hair, the secretaries in the of ces she visited who all broke down. Because Mom had no pretense, because she valued the janitor as much as the king. Because she once told me: “I always try to be kind if I can.”
She taught me that it is valuable to keep learning. In unwitting preparation for these pivot points, Grandma was always learning. She was a voracious reader. Always with three or four books going at one time. She also learned from others. I remember as a young woman she was a little intimidated by store clerks, but her neighbor and friend, Barbra Zimmerman, taught her that she was providing jobs and needn’t be shy.
Sometimes, she learned from personal observation. As you know, she and my father met quite young. It was decades later when they had occasion to visit a nude beach in St. Maarten. I asked my mother about the experience. She explained that she had learned that “All men are NOT created equal!”
And on the lunch line at Lincoln High at just 15 years old — younger than any of the grandchildren present here today — she met a boy. He became her date at her Sweet 16, and the story of her life for the next 60 years was about the life and family she built with Mike Prevor, my father.
It was as if, never having come from a family, she was committed to having the best one possible. She was a teacher, but she gave up that career to take care of yours truly. And she had many interests. She trained and became a travel agent, studied and got certi ed as an interior decorator, but dropped all these things and more the minute they interfered with her husband or children.
There were, of course, physical mani- festations of this commitment to family. Some were private. I remember when we were moving from Albertson to Oyster Bay Cove, our house construction wasn’t complete for the beginning of the school year as had been scheduled, but she didn’t want me to suffer academically or socially from moving into junior high school mid-year. So Mom, who was not a morning person, drove me every day for 10 months.
Some manifestations of this commit- ment to family were public. Later in life, she organized massive trips to bring together the extended family in places such as Italy and Hawaii.
But most of her commitment to family was subtle. The primary fact of her life was that she and my father loved each
The life of Roslyn Prevor gave evidence
of extraordinary resilience ... and in doing so, set standards for us—allofus—toaspireto.Italsosetoutawayofliving, simultaneously purposeful and kind, that can inspire us to live our lives in a better way.
My mother had more than enough blows against her to have a ruined life. She was born to irresponsible parents and soon aban- doned. That alone would have been enough to fell a lesser person.
For a short period of time she and her brother were taken in by her grandparents, but with the death of her grandmother within a year, her grandfather, a tailor of modest means, didn’t feel he could care for her. So, she became a ward of the Brooklyn Hebrew Orphan Asylum, another blow that would have ruined a lesser person.
Alternately, she was bounced around, living in the orphanage or sent out to live with a series of foster homes. Each one was different, some treated her decently and some thought she was Cinderella. One after another, but all without love. Enough again, many times over, to have destroyed the life of a less resilient person.
But her grandfather, who never allowed her to be adopted lest he lose contact, transmitted certain values about education and commitment, and these values — combined with high intelligence and personal resilience — led her to overcome her situation and she graduated both Lincoln High and Brooklyn College and became a teacher. This was at a time when less than 6 percent of females in the U.S. had a college degree.
other tremendously. She would say he was “the wind beneath my wings” but, that is only half the story. She lifted my father, not only emotionally, but in a tangible way. There is not the slightest possibility that my father would have had the success he had in business except that my mother took on everything else.
I once gave a speech at a birthday party where I talked about “Rambo Roz” because, in her prime, she was a sight to behold. Going to college or getting a new apartment, she would say, “I’ll be there to set up the room.” It would all be done faster and more complete than anyone I knew.
When my father fell ill, he was never once alone. My mother dedicated herself completely and totally to his recovery and care. She moved to Texas and to Philadelphia to pursue the treatment my father wanted. She had no family or friends in these places, no support systems. But her dedication to my father was so complete that she never thought of objecting.
Then, of course, my father passed, and she confronted another great pivot point in her life. She was, of course, sad, and had to search for meaning in a life without the man she loved and had built a life with. It is hard for people to understand this loss. She had no hobbies, she had no work, she had only friends that they shared as a couple.
She did not want to engage at all. But she told me that she knew this was not good for her. That this would be a waste of a life. So, she forced herself to start accepting social invitations, meeting friends and, in time, she placed listings on dating apps.
Roslyn Prevor and Jim Prevor

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