The Greatest Test of Resilience in My Life (and How Zaidy Got Me Through It)

Over the last several weeks of our Family Legacy Planning series, we’ve highlighted the importance of preserving ancestors’ stories of resilience. Heirs draw strength knowing they descend from survivors who had what it took to overcome life’s obstacles. Certainly, I’ve made it through hard times better by knowing I come from survivors who endured persecution. I’ve told the story of my “Zaidy” Eliezer Weinstock and what the Weinstock family endured when escaping Hitler, losing two children who didn’t make it out in time. The Weinstock family picked up the pieces and created a new life in America. In our family, we often gain confidence to handle problems by saying, “We come from good stock, WEIN-stock.”

When I started writing this series over a year ago, I never intended to tell my personal stories. My plan was only to share estate planning tips. However, in using some of my own stories to illustrate these tips, I’ve received on outpouring of encouragement to continue sharing. After the recent emails about my ancestors’ hardships, I was asked to describe a time when I applied those lessons in my own life. At your urging, I will open up about the single hardest moment I have faced in my life. I’ve shared this before, but with your indulgence, I’ll provide more detail, hopefully offering to all the gifts of faith, love, and hope.

After Laurie and I were married a couple of years, we rejoiced at becoming pregnant with our first child. It was a perfect pregnancy all the way up through the ninth month. Laurie went into labor and we headed to the delivery room, stopping along the way to buy a disposable camera (remember those days?). When my mom called on the phone in the delivery room, she greeted me by saying, “Hello, Daddy!” It was then I shared a disconcerting update—the nurse was having trouble finding the baby’s heartbeat. We remained hopeful, as sonogram technology was still fairly new and maybe there was some technical glitch. The doctor arrived and the news became grim. We’d lost the baby. No one ever understood why or what happened. It was a mystery we’d have to live with forever. That was February 11, 1982. We buried our baby girl and returned home to an empty nursery.

We were devastated. I wasn’t ready to disassemble the crib, but Laurie told me we had to do it. We hid away all the shower gifts Laurie had received from her co-workers at Fort Worth National Bank. Laurie returned to work, daily confronting the question in the elevator: “What’d you have?” Laurie found the courage to answer each time, “We lost the baby.” You’ve likely gathered by now that I married a woman of phenomenal strength. Laurie’s a sweet, gentle Southern girl, but lives up to the stereotype of a “steel magnolia.”

We were grateful to be pregnant again within a few months, but as you can imagine, we were filled with trepidation. Laurie wouldn’t even tell anyone she was pregnant. About halfway through the pregnancy, we were at a symphony event and Roz Rosenthal nodded toward Laurie’s tummy with a question mark on her face. That night, I told Laurie it was time to let the word out.

On the morning of February 10, 1983, about a month before the due date, I went to work like a normal day. Laurie soon called that she thought she felt a contraction. There had been no signs of early labor. Was this a false alarm? We weren’t taking chances. We met her doctor at the delivery room who confirmed that this was the real thing. Soon after midnight, February 11, 1983, Laurie gave birth to a healthy baby boy. I’ve always believed that Laurie and the Divine willed it to be, that February 11 should be a miracle day for us. Exactly one year to the day after losing our first baby, we were blessed with Adam.

I’ll share another fact I’ve not revealed before. We saved the Hebrew name we were going to use for our first baby girl, with the hope we’d someday have a daughter. That name was Pesha Ita, the Hebrew name of my grandmother Pauline, the daughter of “Zaidy” Eliezer Weinstock. Within three years, our prayers were answered with the birth of Elizabeth Pauline (“Pesha Ita” in Hebrew). Our daughter is yet another miracle, as she carries the name of such a valiant ancestor, while she also carries in her the soul of a sister in heaven.

Fast forward to our daughter’s first pregnancy. Several weeks before Lizzy’s due date, we received an urgent call that her baby was under stress. Laurie and I rushed to the airport, got the last two seats on the next flight to New York, feeling an all too familiar déjà vu from our own first pregnancy. That was a scary trip—a nonstop flight with nonstop prayer. We rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital, and within the hour arrived a small but healthy baby girl Stella, the first member of the fifth generation in the Meyer Oberstein–Pauline Weinstock family tree. “Zaidy” Eliezer Weinstock was there for us once again. Never lose faith, and never underestimate the power of our ancestors to pull us through. They are angels on our shoulders as we go through life. May we preserve their memories and their stories forever.

Marvin E. Blum

Pictured left: The joy of motherhood, as Laurie Blum caresses her newborn son Adam born February 11, 1983, exactly one year after a stillborn birth. Pictured right: Marvin Blum experiences the joy of fatherhood with his infant son Adam.