Shes 90, but dont call her emeritus

denver | Journalists hate to be “scooped” — to see some other journalist or medium get the story first. On this one, I had to be scooped.

John Temple of the Rocky Mountain News scooped me, and I’m glad.

How so?

He recently published a beautiful tribute to my mother, Miriam Goldberg, on her 90th birthday. Among other things, he called the editor and publisher of the Intermountain Jewish News the “editor emeritus” of Colorado.

He had many other nice things to say.

Obviously, I could have gotten the story first. Or maybe not.

My mother allows no publicity about herself. Because of her position at the IJN, no one here could do a story on her without her OK.

I didn’t even try. I knew the answer in advance.

“No.”

Along comes John Temple, who, after all, works for another newspaper and is freed of all such constraints, and he opens the floodgates.

Thank you, John! Not just for the beautiful tribute, but for making it possible for us to offer one.

One reason Miriam Goldberg shies away from publicity is that she is too much in love with the work itself. In how many ways? Can you count to 10?

Not many years ago, she wrote the Shmoos column. That is now done by Andrea Jacobs. (Count 1.)

Not too many years ago, she read the negatives before they went to press. (Count 2.)

She did all the work on the Legal Notices (except typesetting). This job is now done by three people. (Add two, to get 4.)

She did the layout for all weekly and special editions. (Count 5.)

She personally selected the stories for the weekly business page. (Count 6.)

She made the daily deposit. (You’re up to 7.)

She represented the IJN to the Colorado Press Association, American Jewish Press Association and countless other organizations and at countless conferences. (Count 9.)

Miriam Goldberg sold advertising and did substatial proofreading. (Add one, to get 10.)

You get the idea.

It has taken more than 10 people to replace Miriam Goldberg. And she’s not even replaced.

She still sells advertising, proofreads and handles administrative tasks several hours each day in the office. She still represents the IJN at dinners and conferences.

No “emeritus” honors for Miriam Goldberg.

There is no child, grandchild, great-grandchild, niece, nephew, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, great-niece, great-nephew or first-cousin of Miriam Goldberg without whom she does not have (or did not have) an individual relationship.

The same may be said for each and every one of her late aunts and uncles, grandparents and brother. She took her mother into her home for many years toward the end of Grandma’s life.

And this is only family.

Mom has sustained friendships for decades. To be her friend, one need not be her contemporary. So even though many of Mom’s friends have passed on, she is surrounded by friends.

And all this does not include employees, for each of whom she makes a birthday party each year.

Mom’s life was tied up with Dad’s because his was such an intensive, all absorbing life. He brought politicians, media stars and other fascinating personages home for dinner. A Denver Post columnist, one-on-one television interviewer and media manager of political campaigns, he made life exciting. Mom loved and supported it all without giving up her independence, without letting it keep her from her own friends and life.

And even this is not the whole story. We come to the total strangers.

Once, shortly after I was married, Mom visited us in Boston. Mom and I were in downtown Boston, sitting in the car, just about to pull out of a parking place. Someone signaled. Someone needed directions.

Mom easily could have said, “I’m not from Boston,” and moved on.

But she didn’t. She got out of the car, heard the lady out, spoke with her for five minutes in a way that obviously went beyond giving directions, since Mom didn’t know Boston anyway.

A human presence had stepped into Mom’s life. It made no difference that they had never met before. Philosophers have big words for this, “dialogue,” “I-Thou,” but never have I seen anyone live it more than Miriam Goldberg.

The contemporary metaphor for that incident in Boston would be the “repeat” button on the computer — I have seen Mom treat total strangers as long-lost friends countless times.

In a tribute addressed to Mom, my brother Richard put it this way: “Your friendship imprints virtually every human encounter with everyday acts of thoughtfulness … Your declarations of good cheer, recognition, encouragement or consolation trademark your embrace of life’s events that you know are significant to others.”

Happy birthday, Mom!