Sandra Marlene Landy
Wife to Sid for 52 years
Mother to Allison
Grandmother to Ryan and Taylor
As I prepare to head back to Phoenix today to assist my father in putting my mother's life in order, I find myself thinking about the life of the woman who held the role of my mom. Our relationship was not an easy one, and at one point I mourned the fact that I would never have the type of mother/daughter relationship that I observed in other families. You know, the relationship where as adults, you have coffee together, chat over life, cry over hardship. But for me, that was not my mom. As explained to me by a therapist once, my mother had Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Once I realized that, I was OK, but I do regret how it affected my children's relationship with my mother. If I could change one thing, that would be it.
Sandy Landy, as she went by, was a force with which to be reckoned. She'd introduce herself with "I'm Sandy Landy, like Chicken Licken." She loved the fact that her name rhymed, not because the name belonged to her husband, but that her name would be, and could be, remembered. She wanted you to remember her - no matter what. When asked, "mom, what did you want to be when you grew up?" Her response was always, "famous." When asked, "and what did you want to do with your life?" She always said, "leave a legacy."
LATCH School, Inc., which my mother founded in Phoenix AZ in 1980 was a private school for children with low-incidence disabilities who required significant supports. LATCH School was her brainchild, designed and built in a night over a game of bridge. Her bridge partner, Larry Salsbury, who had more faith in her than anyone, literally handed her a check for 25K and said, "here, now go create your dream." And she did just that, opening LATCH School less than 6 months later and repaying that loan within the first year. The School's tagline was "where the key is caring" and as crazy and self-centered and rude as my mother was, every decision she made was so that LATCH would be the best school for the children it served that it could be. She lectured every new staff member on the issues of dignity and made clear that LATCH students should and always would be served with dignity.
LATCH School should have been her legacy. But it was stolen from her, by a greedy, uncompassionate group of people, with Connie Laird at the helm. After 15 years of service, my mother was forced to leave the school which arose from her heart. Those involved not only stole her position, but they even stole her legacy. Forgotten were the times when my mother went running to Connie to help her during bouts with her abusive husband. Forgotten was the fact that after her divorce, my mother gave Connie a decent job with full benefits at LATCH. Forgotten was the friendship they had maintained over good times and bad.
LATCH School is now called ACCEL. No longer does the tagline even include the notion of caring and dignity. No longer is my mother the Executive Director. All that might be OK, but what I find so egregious of the school is that in its history, the woman who made it what it is today - who gave every person in need a place to work - who was its founder and executive director for 15 years is nowhere to be found. So, I'm here to ensure that at least those who read my blog all know the truth. Sandra Marlene Landy, is the founder of LATCH School/ACCEL. Many of those in leadership positions were hired by her during its first few years. One person who remains had her job even saved because my mother decided to open an ON-SITE child care program in 1985 so that this person's two daughters could be nearby. Let noone forget that if not for Sandy Landy, ACCEL would never have existed, and thousands of children of Arizona would not have received an education that gave them dignity and independence.
But my mother's story does not end here. In August of 1999, my mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer. My son's bar mitzvah was 18 months away and my mom asked the doctors if she would make it to that moment. They responded with, "spend time with him now." When forced to give an answer though, they said it could be anywhere between 6 weeks and 6 months. That was 13 years ago. THIRTEEN. The median survival rate for stage four is 8-9 months. Only 2% of patients survive more than 5 years. My mother lived for 13 years. She was in a special trial, and the nurse who cared for her went on to complete her doctorate in nursing using my mother's case for her dissertation. LATCH School may not have been her legacy, she did indeed leave one.
But my mother leaves one more legacy. I'm not sure she ever understood it, or even believed it was "legacy enough." But she leaves me... and my daughter, Taylor. We are cut from the same cloth the three of us. As much as I wish it weren't true, I am definitely my mother's daughter. We are women with a lineage (going back to my great grandmother, Ana for whom I named) of strength, independence, persistence, and determination. Once we set our minds on a goal, we make it happen. My mother decided to live, and she did... with gusto.
For my mom, I say:
Glorified and sanctified be God's great name throughout the world which He has created according to His will. May He establish His kingdom in your lifetime and during your days, and within the life of the entire House of Israel, speedily and soon; and say, Amen.
May His great name be blessed forever and to all eternity.
Blessed and praised, glorified and exalted, extolled and honored, adored and lauded be the name of the Holy One, blessed be He, beyond all the blessings and hymns, praises and consolations that are ever spoken in the world; and say, Amen.
May there be abundant peace from heaven, and life, for us
and for all Israel; and say, Amen.
He who creates peace in His celestial heights, may He create peace for us and for all Israel; and say, Amen.
But, for my dad, myself, and my family, I ask for healing, and I say:
May the One who blessed our ancestors --
Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,
Matriarchs Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah --
bless and heal
May the Holy Blessed One
overflow with compassion upon us,
to restore us,
to heal us,
to strengthen us,
to enliven us.
The One will send us, speedily,
a complete healing --
healing of the soul and healing of the body --
along with all the ill,
among the people of Israel and all humankind,
and let us all say: Amen!