For the invitation to her “100 Years Young” birthday party, Naomi Bogomolny chose an anonymous poem titled Life Owes Me Nothing.
On June 3 (2005) Bogomolny will celebrate her 100th birthday surrounded by more than 100 members of her family and friends.
Bogomolny was interviewed at her seniors residence, along with her daughter Edith Monson, an Ottawa artist who moved to Toronto six months ago. Monson’s painting of her mother is also on the invitation.
“My mother is as sharp as ever,” Monson says, although Bogomolny has some difficulty speaking since suffering a series of ministrokes.
“My mother has a very optimistic outlook. She always taught her children that when you get up in the morning, ‘you comb you hair, put on your lipstick, and you are prepared for anything throughout the day.’ To this day, her appearance is still very important to her.”
Recently, Bogomolny went to a dermatologist to have some marks removed from her face, saying that she wants to look nice at her 100th birthday. She notes that her dermatologist is Dr. Rochelle Mandelcorn Monson, her granddaughter-in-law.
Bogomolny was born Naomi Bronstein in 1905 in Zvanetz, Bessarabia, then part of Russia. Aaron Bogomolny escaped Russia in 1922 and went to work as a salesman in Winnipeg. Five years later, he brought his bride and they were married.
They moved to Kapuskasing, Ont., where Aaron managed Bucovetsky’s Department Store, now called Buc’s. He went on to open a men’s wear store and a restaurant.
Their three children, Nancy Levine, Monson and Hersh Bromley were born in Kapuskasing.
When the children were still young, the family moved to St. Catharines, where Bogomolny worked with her husband in their men’s wear store, She became active in Hadassah-WIZO and served as chapter president in St. Catharines.
“My mother was very courageous,” says Monson. “When she came to Kapuskasing, although she was in her mid-20s, she enrolled in Grade 1 to learn to read and write English.”
That was the beginning of a self-taught education. Highly articulate and an avid reader of literature and poetry, she ultimately began writing for her own pleasure. Over the years, she has written poems, stories and greetings cards for family and friends.
Bogomolny’s first published work appeared in the Kapuskasing daily. It was titled “Bottoms up,” and was followed by a poem, “What’s in a Greeting Card?”
Aaron Bogomolny died 20 years ago. Two years later, Naomi moved to Toronto where she became active at the Bernard Betel Centre for Creative Living participating in the literary groups where she wrote poetry.
Despite the fact that Bogomolny’s speech has been affected, Monson notes that she has exceptional hearing and vision. “She can hear a tap leaking, and her doctor says that if she was driving, she wouldn’t have her licence taken away because of her eyesight. And I believe she takes less pills than anyone else at Forest Hill Place.”
On the weekend of her 100th birthday, Bogomolny’s great-granddaughter Hannah Simpson will celebrate her bat mitzvah. People will be coming from New York, Boston, St. Catharines and Ottawa for the weekend’s celebrations.
At the party for the centenarian, four generations will be present. Her children, six grandchildren and their spouses, and 19 great-grandchildren will participate with speeches, songs and recitation of poems.
Until recently, Bogomolny has spoken at all family simchahs.
Quoting from her poem “What’s in a Greeting Card?”, Bogomolny concludes, “Yes, it’s just a piece of paper,/ And it costs no big amount,/ But it proves that old, old saying,/ ‘It’s all the little things that count.'”
It is this philosophy that has made Naomi Bogomolny’s 100 years full of joy and gratitude. ♦
This article appeared originally in the Canadian Jewish News and appears here courtesy of the author. © 2005 by Cynthia Gasner