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ID: Lillian Sue Gaev

  • Lilly Gaev with Django<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Lilly Gaev with Django<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Lilly Gaev with Django<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

As a child of Holocaust survivors, Lillian Gaev says, she had a strange, yet wonderful childhood — in spite of it being tinged with a premature awareness of sorrow. She enjoys the community of Northampton, where she’s lived for 35 years, with its combination of outdoor life and the arts.

Full name: Lillian Sue Gaev

People know you as: Lilly

Date and place of birth: March 29, 1948, in Philadelphia

Address: Florence

Jobs: Clinical director of Therapeutic Associates P.C. in Northampton and Longmeadow; co-owner, with my husband, of Center Court Offices: renovation and rental of Victorian houses

Who lives under the same roof as you? My husband Dr. Bennett N. Gaev; our standard poodle, Django (after Reinhart, not Tarentino)

Children: Leo, 34, and Samara, 31

Education: Philadelphia High School for Girls; Temple University, bachelor’s degree in English and psychology; University of Rochester, master’s degree in counseling; Bristol Hospital Post Graduate Family Therapy Institute

Hobbies: Bicycling, hiking, downhill and cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, cooking, yoga, reading, knocking down walls, design and decorating

Book you’d recommend to a friend: “The Gift of Grief: Finding Peace, Transformation, and Renewed Life After Great Sorrow” by Matthew D. Gewirtz

Favorite movie/TV show/musicians: Movie — “Angels in America”; TV — “The Wire”; musicians — B.B. King, Bach, The Beatles, Sonny Rollins

Five things you can’t live without: My family and dog; my sense of humor; my Jew-Bu-Pagan spirituality; my quads; Hungry Ghost bread

What’s at the top of your bucket list? Making a meaningful contribution to the Women’s Lung Cancer Forum at Dana Farber/Brigham & Women’s Hospital Life-changing experience: My diagnosis and treatment for lung cancer. As a jock, a poster woman for healthy eating, and meditating, I never expected to be hit with this type of challenge

A little-known fact about you: I clean up public restroom stalls so that the next person won’t be grossed out, like I was; and so they won’t think I was the one who left it that way

A trend or fashion you’d like to see return: Cozy and private phone conversations at home on landlines; slips under clingy skirts and dresses that need “smoothing” (ladies, you should check the rearview mirror)

What really sets you off? The National Rifle Association denying that they are anything but a vehicle for the gun sellers and manufacturers

Best advice you ever got: From my mother — whenever I was getting too hung up on making everything perfect — “Lilkeleh (Yiddish diminutive endearment), loz zan krimm, a be arimm.” Translation: Let it be crooked, as long as it goes around

Favorite place to get a bite: Eastside Grill in Northampton on a Tuesday night after working late: This became a ritual many years ago as they’ve always welcomed us when most restaurants were already vacuuming

Favorite team: TEAM LILLY: My friends, family, and colleagues who came on board to support me with phone calls, notes, visits, rides, food and love during my cancer treatments

What does your ideal weekend look like? Cozy breakfast graciously made and served by Ben; meet with my contractor about moving around some walls; ride our tandem bicycle to Chesterfield, or snowshoe up Unkemonk Road Woods in Leeds with Django; do a hot tub; eat at Amanouz Cafe with friends and find some live music or dance for the evening; take a yoga class; clean out the refrigerator; make soup; watch two episodes of “Homeland” in a row

What gives you the creeps? The distortion of the Second Amendment by so many gun-crazed, fear-driven people in our country

People who knew you in high school thought you were: Either intensely serious or seriously funny. A few of my English teachers, and my inner sanctum, knew that I was both

Whom do you most admire? My mother, Blanka, and her two sisters, Aunt Alice and Aunt Miriam — all now deceased and dearly missed. As Holocaust survivors from the Warsaw Ghetto, they alone survived, out of eight sisters, parents and extended family. Their stories, songs, tears, humor and laughter shaped my childhood; my lifelong interest in human emotion and behavior; and my fascination and respect for resilience and survival

Parting shot: “Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water” — Zen saying about facing obligations and realities with grace and a curiosity about ourselves instead of lament and resistance. Word has it that this is what I was chanting when I came out of anesthesia following my lung surgery this past Thanksgiving

Editor’s Note — To suggest someone for ID, email Keri-Ann Aubin at kaubin@gazettenet.com.

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