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Phran Ginsburg

A tribute from Bob Ginsberg

Phran & I were married for 46 years, which is pretty good considering that she hated me when we first met on a blind date. I barely remember my life before her - we were rarely apart, and the thought of ever living without her never crossed my mind. She is a force of nature, and I am lost.

To describe Phran I need only mention one word - Passion. Passion for the well being of her family, passion for the health and prosperity of her friends, and passion for all those who have suffered injustice. She believed that she was put on this earth to effect change, and nothing would stop her in this mission. She believes that Everything was put before her for a reason and she pounced on all opportunities to make things better. Recently a hospice nurse was with us and before she left she asked us if we had any questions. In a feeble attempt at humor I replied "yeah, what is the meaning of life?" The nurse looked bewildered and said "that's a hard question." But Phran, as weak as she was, piped in and said "No, it is not a hard question - it is simple - To leave This world a Better Place" Despite her clouded brain she still had the insight and clarity that most of us will never know.

I don't know if George Washington actually said it, but Phran certainly did - "never tell a lie". She instilled this in our children as she pointed out that lying always makes it worse. I honestly cannot recall any instance of her lying - she always spoke what she believed to be the truth. Often you did not like what she said, but you could never challenge her honesty.

I was trying to think of the best example of Phran seizing on every opportunity to educate and share what she had learned. Oddly enough, What I remembered was the day that two people from Jehova's Witness knocked on our door. If I had answered the door I would have politely ushered them away and said "not interested". But Phran answered the door, and they did not know what they were in for. In a logical fashion, she spent the next 30 minutes in a discussion with the young apprentice and his elder. She told them that she rejected the dogma they were preaching, pointing out that their rules meant nothing and it was only the love and compassion that mattered, and these principles preceded organized religion. She pointed out that the founders of today's organized religions came out of ages of mysticism, where people felt connected to a greater source and regularly communicated with their ancestors. At the end of the one-sided discussion, the apprentice looked up at the elder and said "she makes a lot of sense, I agree" at which point the elder turned red and left politely but abruptly. And that sums it up - only Phran was capable of opening the mind of and flipping a Jehovahs witness.

We used to joke that Phran has not received a paycheck in the last 40 years, but nobody ever worked harder. Her life was dedicated toward the greater good, no matter what path that would take. After founding Forever Family Foundation in 2003 it became her all-consuming life's purpose. She literally touched the lives of thousands of people through personal contacts and the services she developed. Always working behind the scenes while others took the credit. She was overwhelmed with work, with mountains of papers all over her desk and floor, but if someone called the office who was in grief and needed to talk everything came to a halt and she would spend hours on the phone with the person. She did this because helping someone in need was the only thing that mattered.

Phran was complex - a perfect mixture of left and right brained qualities. She was driven and laser focused, highly intelligent, and had an absurdly logical and analytical mind. She went to Brandeis University on a scholarship, and later secured her MBA. She knew the organized pathway to accomplish each goal and would let nothing stand in her way. She was a perfectionist, which made it difficult to live with someone like me. On the other hand, she also had a spiritual side and was blessed with a deep inner knowledge of the way the universe worked. The combination made her a powerful human being and enabled her to guide many who were lost. She found joy in many of life's simple pleasures, but my one regret is that her commitment to change the world often meant sacrificing personal joy.

As intense as she was, she also had a wonderful sense of humor and loved to laugh. I recall the time that we were taking our daily walk in the nature preserve that was near our home. While walking the path I spotted a very beautiful multi-colored bird. Because Phran knew everything I asked her what kind of bird this was. She simply said "oh, that's a double cocked summer warbler." I made a mental note and we continued our walk. About a week later I had a potential new client in my office. While getting to know him and shooting the breeze, he mentioned that he was an ornithologist and his passion was birds. Ah, now I had my opportunity to score some points. I told him that I too loved birds and mentioned that I saw a bird the other day that I had never seen before. He got excited and asked what kind of bird it was that I spotted. I proudly told him it was a double cocked summer warbler. After the glare I received from him that I translated into "you idiot" he told me that there was no such bird. It was right then and there that I knew that Phran had set me up. When I got home and started to tell Phran the story she roared with laughter.

Not once during her illness did she complain about her predicament, despite the suffering as she watched her body fall apart. Of course she wanted to live, she never gave up hope of a miracle - she wanted to live because there was much more that she needed to do, and more of life's joys to experience. But she believed that when faced with a situation over which you have no control you have no choice but to deal with it the best you can. She also knew that there is life after physical death, at which time she would recognize the patterns behind the apparent randomness that permeates the physical world.

During her illness she was disheartened to see my tearful eyes and admonished me more than once that if I were to help her it was imperative to maintain a sense of humor and positive attitude. I tried my best, but I am afraid that I failed in my attempts most of the time. Near the end of her disease the combination of her fatigue, sleepiness, pain medication, and her ability to reach altered states of consciousness often resulted in visions and hallucinations as she was straddling two worlds. She would often awaken by uttering words and phrases that appeared to make no sense, but other times they showed wisdom and clarity. One time she snapped to attention, looked straight through me with glazed eyes, and said “The universe teaches us about delusion." I got the message and asked if that meant that our physical world was just an illusion, and I received an affirmative "yes." I believe she felt that it was important to impart the knowledge that we shouldn't be deceived into thinking that this material world was all there is, and our true home resides elsewhere.

Near the end, despite a body that was barely alive, she beckoned me towards her and we embraced for what seemed an eternity, her trembling hands gripping me tight as we kissed and she told me that she has always loved me. That is a moment permanently impressed on my soul. She had previously told me that we would still be living in the same house, it's just that she will be living there from the spirit world and me in the physical realm.

So yes, my great love, I too have loved you forever, and that love can never be broken. That knowledge may be the only thing to mend my heart that has been shattered once again.

18 years ago in this we mourned the passing of my daughter Bailey. Phran's body will be buried next to Baileys at the Sharon Gardens cemetery in Valhalla. But only their bodies will be housed there - their true selves, their consciousness, their minds, their spirit, their souls are elsewhere. I have no doubt that Bailey has already greeted Phran with open arms, and I would not be surprised if they have already teamed up to start making the afterlife a better place.