Recollections of a recent friend

by Rosalie Matzkin

I did not have the opportunity to know Enid Mark over a long stretch of years. And I did not have the opportunity to get to know her as well as I would have, had she not taken ill so suddenly and died. I did not have the luxury of spending more time with this bright, talented, dynamic woman of so many interests, and dimensions.

I met Enid and Gene at Harriet and Gene Abroms home, when we were celebrating Gene Abroms's Bar Mitzvah some six or seven years earlier. At that time we were all suburbanites. Enid and I began to connect after that, over the High Holidays at Rodeph Shalom Synagogue, where the Marks and the Abroms were now members, and where I joined at the suggestion of the Abroms. Soon after, I moved to town, and within months, Enid and Gene had also moved into their condo in the same Center City/Rittenhouse neighborhood.

The move into town, while exciting, was also demanding and time consuming, as we all went about the business of settling in, and figuring out our new routines and bus and walking routes, and giving new shape to our lives. Enid and I would bump into each other and discuss the move, and how dizzying and busying it was keeping us. On the other hand, we were now truly neighbors; both the Marks and I living on 19th Street, only separated by our little Rittenhouse Square Park.

I knew, of course, of Enid's artistic talent, and had seen her work at the library and of course, at Harriet's home where she had shared with me, with great pride, I might add, her friend's beautiful renderings. They were amazing. Sheer poetry in and of themselves. Enid's artistic talent was extraordinary.

Soon after the Marks had settled into town, Enid invited me to dinner, and she and Gene were most wonderful and gracious hosts. She was a terrific cook and baker as well as a talented artist. And her new Philadelphia city home was elegant, tasteful and full of her persona. I reciprocated, and so began a brief series of visits of that sort; before an event or after; a brunch. It was all very comfortable and easy. One Sunday I managed to miss a brunch with Enid and Gene (I had confused the date), and they were understanding and forgiving. (I was hugely upset at my discombobulation.)

Enid and I often met at the gym at the Rittenhouse Hotel, and would spend perhaps 45 minutes together chatting, sharing, as we did the tread mill or bike, or whatever it was that we did in the gym. Although as I recall, we were always rushing somewhere or other, and never feeling we had enough time to just relax and visit. It was easy to communicate with Enid because she was so bright, so sharp and so well-informed. That she was also a committed Democrat, as was Gene, was a natural component of our friendship, and it endeared her to me greatly.

While Enid did talk about her work, it was by no means then, the main topic of her conversation. She could just as easily talk about what she was discovering about food market shopping in Center City, or other topics of current interest. She was so lively!

Our budding friendship never fully blossomed because of the quick turn of events in the Mark family, with both Melanie and Enid's fatal illnesses. It was almost unbearably horrendous that both women were so stricken, that Peter was so far away, although he came often and stayed as long as he could. And that Gene had so much to deal with. And deal he did, as he became the constant caregiver day in and day out, without complaint, always ready to do whatever he could for his two girls.

What I want to remember most, is that the Enid I came to know in this short span of four or five years, was a woman of strength, determination, courage, and commitment. She was highly intelligent, seemingly resilient, despite a history of other health problems she had overcome. She reached out to me, and I found that quite lovely. For she was a busy woman, What I saw in her in those last years of her life, the only time I really knew her, was humane and human. She took care of her family, her husband, her two very loved adult offspring, Peter and Melanie, whose illness was so devastating. She tried to do all that she could to fight her own illness, while trying to cope with and to be supportive of, Melanie's crisis, and she was intent on finishing another artist's book. Amazingly, she had the book nearly completed before her death. Perhaps that project kept her going. It seemed to be a need in her, almost like breathing. I think her dedication and relentless intentionality were inspiring traits, that I will always remember about her.

She was taken too early. But she has left a wonderful and beautiful legacy.

With sincere regret and affection,
Rosalie Greenfield Matzkin