Close your eyes, breathe in deeply, now exhale slowly… That was easy, wasn’t it? Not for everyone…
Leo was blessed with Miriam, as she was with him. I think that they made up for all that each had lost. The love that existed between them is the stuff of storybooks; we don’t come across it too often. In fact I think most people thought of them as one Leo and Miriam Miriam and Leo. You know what it was? The strong love that existed between them enveloped anyone in their presence. And this love never diminished in their 60 plus years of marriage. Leo and Miriam were blessed with two wonderful daughters, Susan and Michelle and eventually with two granddaughters Nadia and Nicole.
Miriam and Leo Schreiber, 1949
Photo by: Dr. Marcel Tuchman
My life changed dramatically this past winter when my husband suffered a major stroke. His six-week stay in Rusk brought me to Leo and Miriam’s home. I stayed there every weekend. I am very thankful that I had that time together with them. Leo was in a weakened state physically, but his sweet, loving, gentle nature was very evident. We sat at the table together and he and Miriam worked at making me feel hopeful. Miriam cared for him with all the love she had shown him for a lifetime. Leo spoke to her and looked at her with all the love he had shown her for a lifetime. We spoke about everything. Illness had not dimmed Leo’s knowledge, or his sense of humor, or the Hebrew words he always greeted me with, or his loving nature. They didn’t only make me feel comfortable, I felt like I was home when I was with them. And I felt enveloped by the love that existed between them.
When a survivor of the Holocaust dies, every person is diminished. We are losing the last witnesses to the horror that many would try to deny or minimize. With the death of Leo Schreiber, our family and his many friends have lost a loving beautiful soul.
In Michelle’s words, “My father was an amazing man. He taught me to be all that I am and instilled in me the best of who I am. He emerged from the profound tragedy of the Holocaust not bitter or vengeful but filled with a zest for life and commitment to justice. He built a beautiful life with the love of his life, my mom, at his side. He was the best father and grandfather in the world. I miss him so.”
Susan summed it up, “About a month before he went into the hospital he said to me on one of our drives, ‘I am at the tail end of my life and as I look back at what I have accomplished, I feel good about what I have done and how I have lived.’
‘It’s been a good life’ he said. I agree, he led a very good life and he was a very good man. I miss him now and I always will.”
Leo is in heaven now where he can truly answer the question we are told we will be asked Did you deal honorably with man? Yes Almighty, Leo Schrieber was honorable to mankind and he cared for his family with every fiber of his being. He will surely be an advocate for his wife and children and all of us from on high together with his parents and all of his martyred family. And to Miriam we wish the strength to carry on for the sake of her daughters and their families and for all of us who love her so.
About the Author: Naomi Klass Mauer is associate publisher of The Jewish Press.
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