Photo Credit: Jewish Press

I’d like to thank Hashem for giving me almost 54 years with an amazing woman, my wife Davida (Devorah Shoshana Bas Mayer Nosson), who recently passed away. I’d also like to thank Hashem for giving us a few days together in the hospital where she was very sharp mentally and gave me advice on what was best for me to do after her passing. As usual, she was right on target and I intend to follow her opinions.

The greater Detroit Jewish community knew her as a gifted English teacher in Yeshiva Beth Yehuda and other Jewish day schools and as a tireless worker on behalf of Orthodox organizations and dinners. Our Century Village West Palm Beach crowd knew her as the go-to person when it came to shopping or other advice. Or just as a good friend.


She looked radiant and beautiful at our granddaughter’s wedding in Lakewood, and many friends and relatives from Detroit and Florida came, as well as those summering in Lakewood. She enjoyed sheva brachos on the East Coast and those in Oak Park, Michigan on Shabbos where she looked and sounded great. But four days after the last sheva brachos, she had no appetite for food and her voice sounded tired and her breathing more labored. It seemed sudden, as she usually was a bundle of energy. She was glued to the couch and only asked for help to put her shoes on or take them off, to bring her a cup of coffee, or help her lift off the couch.

With her permission, Detroit Hatzalah was called and they advised that she be rushed to the hospital. Since it was Thursday evening, she wanted to wait until after Shabbos, but was told she must go immediately. Testing was conducted Thursday night and we worked out an around-the-clock watch and would use the Detroit Chesed organization apartment for Shabbos, as the hospital is about three miles away from the heart of the Orthodox Oak Park/Southfield community.

Friday morning after davening, I called her. “Your wife is a very sick girl,” she said. “Come as soon as you can and I’ll fill you in.” She was told she had an aggressive form of cancer in several locations and that she didn’t have long to live. “I accept Hashem’s will,” she said that Friday morning, “and I’m ready to go.” I was still trying to digest the information as we had planned a three week trip to Florida shortly with a return stop in Lakewood to see our two great-grandchildren and their parents and to see where the newly married couple lived.

The family was then informed about her diagnosis and an around-the-clock vigil began. She wasn’t in pain but was very uncomfortable. She was bedridden with all kinds of wires feeding her and providing numbers to machines. “I wish they could pull the wires so I can go quicker,” she said. “It’s very uncomfortable.” She was great mentally and had tons of visitors through the following Tuesday, the last day she could communicate. Her medical team of four doctors seemed to agree that her life would end within two or three days.

She made it to Shabbos and for the second time two of the grandchildren stayed with her and bunked at the Bikur Cholim apartment across the street from the hospital, while two more walked over on Shabbos afternoon. By the time they arrived, Bubby had passed away and the four grandchildren walked back with their father to inform me. The Sunday funeral was one of the biggest in history of the Detroit Orthodox community. After all, she must have taught close to a thousand kids.

She loved her students and they felt it. She tried to find out what they were interested in and chatted about it with them. She didn’t believe in giving homework as she thought that the school day was long and sometimes boring for many. They needed time to play and for their hobbies. She reached her students through their interests.

She taught me how to set the table. I know nothing about cooking or preparing a meal, but it was my job to wash dishes and to set the table. I was putting the silverware in different places around the plate, so she used her teaching talent to show me how to do it correctly and remember it. “You put the little fork at third base,” she said, “the big fork at shortstop, the knife at second base, and the spoon at first base.” That was my guide every time I set the table.

Shiva was very hard as it was non-stop and I was the only one sitting because our daughter (our only child) passed away ten years earlier. Visitors meant well as they related personal stories of what a great teacher she was and how she had reached their kids. I was hoping they would fast-forward their stories as it wasn’t easy to sit all day and to pay attention. Most people asked the same question, “How long was she sick?” Many wanted details. It was tough repeating the same story numerous times daily. Many wanted to know about what she had told me and what my plans were. I thought some were downright nosy. My plan, I answered, was to say Kaddish through shloshim for an amazing wife.

Dear readers, you’ve been with me for the 16 years or so I’ve been writing the Baseball Insider column for The Jewish Press, and I hope to continue it. Now I’m keeping busy cleaning out our apartment in Oak Park, Michigan. The lease is up at the end of November and I’ll keep you posted as I follow my late wife’s advice as to what bases to go to.


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Author, columnist, Irwin Cohen headed a national baseball publication for five years and interviewed many legends of the game before accepting a front office position with the Detroit Tigers where he became the first orthodox Jew to earn a World Series ring (1984).