Thriving on a love for learning – for life!

Today I am both struck and stirred by unlikely inspiration.  This morning an odd path lead me to do some research about someone I attended high school with in Scottsdale, Arizona. While looking into where this friend now is, I kept coming across this obituary about her grandmother. Finally, I read it. Why not?

Being impressed by this woman’s grand passion for living well I copied her obituary to this blog page as a reminder of the philosophy to “never look back” and to commit one’s self to a life-long pursuit of learning and family.  Stephan Covey talks about “First Things First” and “Beginning with the End in Mind.”  This beautifully written obituary is a grand place to start.  (I’m sure Pam Hait must be the author of it!)

Indeed, it does seem that some people are called to a life of accomplishments while others are merely pulled into survival. Having been shaped and influenced myself at a tender age by some of this woman’s family, I am left to wonder about that old debate of nature verses nurture. What is it that truly leads us into the fulfillment of our lives? How much do our genetics play out the parts and what aspect of the environment in which we grow develops the potential within us?

As a daughter of a rich family history of great thinkers and community pillars, and as a mother – with children who share the legacy of William Bradford, one of the Mayflower Pilgrims, I am called to the well of greatness.   I feel this legacy of accomplishment drive me.  The connection to our lineage is inherent in who I am.  Yet I surrender to it humbly, remembering Mother Teresa’s words, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”

I pray that our children are lead to use their lives to their fullest potential according to the gifts they have given them.  I pray that their father and I will consciously contribute to their healthy development and passion for living well.  I pray that when it is my time, beloved family and friends will say of me “She never looked back.”

Miriam Friedlander Hait

Miriam Friedlander Hait, wife, mother, artist, grandmother and great-grandmother, passed away Feb. 2, 2009. Born in Newark, NJ, Mar. 31, 1914, she was the youngest of five children of a family of artists. Miriam was a larger-than-life personality who once told her granddaughter she needed four lifetimes to do all that she wanted to do.

She had two birth dates and two anniversaries. She celebrated March 31 but discovered, when she applied for a passport, that her birth certificate stated April 8. As for anniversaries, she was married secretly on Christmas Eve of 1935 to the love of her life, Louis Hait, when he was in medical school. That ceremony was conducted by New York Mayor Fiorello La Guardia, with the actor William Bendix serving as best man. Miriam was working in theater in New York City as an actress, director and set designer in off-Broadway productions. Four years later, when Lou graduated, they were married again in a religious ceremony.

In the 1930s, Lou and Miriam moved to Lorain, OH where he practiced family medicine. Along with answering patients’ calls when her husband was unavailable, Miriam created her own career as an art columnist for the Lorain Journal and an award-winning artist. She began making pottery, then enameling, which led to her becoming a silversmith and a goldsmith. Her work was shown at the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Butler Museum, among others, and she won numerous juried art shows. She studied at Columbia, the Cleveland Institute of Art and Oberlin College, where her emphasis was on gold jewelry. In Lorain, Miriam was a community activist and avid golfer who also designed horse show clothing for her three children, Glen, Susan and Vicki. She often joined her children, riding her own horse in parades. In 1960, she patented a magnetic golf ball marker. In the early 1970s, she opened Design Gallery and marketed her jewelry designs nationally in major boutiques and stores including Neiman Marcus. Believing in the power of beauty, she felt art should be part of every day life, and pioneered fashion jewelry made of semi-precious gemstones. She and her husband traveled regularly to the Orient for many years to buy for her business.

She and Lou moved to Phoenix in 1979 to be close to their children and grandchildren. In addition to Design Gallery, she became a docent for the Nelson Fine Art Center at ASU, was active in Friends of Mexican Art, and sang in the Temple Solel choir. She remained a lifelong art collector. Always open to new experiences, in her late 70s she studied monoprinting with artist Fritz Scholder and began producing monoprints. In her early 80s she studied welding at Scottsdale Community College and made contemporary sculpture. When she could no longer carry the heavy pieces, she studied computer graphics at the college. She was given a direction in class she didn’t understand and asked another student to explain it. Told she should have gotten that information in the prerequisite course, Miriam replied, “At my age, I don’t have time for prerequisites.” For many years she created computer art and produced a line of cards she presented to family and friends.

Miriam Hait lived by the philosophy: “I never look back.” This enabled her to transition nearly seamlessly from wife to widow, mother to grandmother and great-grandmother, and from life to death. Gracious yet imperious, she remains a towering figure to all of us who love her. She is survived by her loving family that includes her three children, Dr. Glen Hait and Pam, Susan Hait Bookspan, and Richard and Vicki Hait Bates; and grandchildren Jamie Hait Cohen and Hugh Hait; Neal, Todd and Gregg Bookspan, and Stephanie and Brian Bates. She is also survived by 13 great-grandchildren. The family suggests that contributions can be made in her memory to the Westminster Village Foundation, Inc. 12000 N. 90th Street, Scottsdale, AZ 85260. Arrangements by Green Acres Mortuary.

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