Ethel and Phil Adler – A Tribute
Ethel Irene Kugler, born January 30th 1909, married to Dr. Philip Adler, born January 2nd 1925. She, a head floor nurse at Philadelphia Osteopathic Hospital, he a dashing young intern arriving on her floor for his tour of service; they used to mischieviously tell friends, they met in the “V.D. Clinic.” 🙂
My Eulogy to Dad
Delivered Friday, March 21 1997
“My Father was not an emotionally demonstrative man. That was not a part of his generation’s make-up. But my Father demonstrated his love for his family every single day of his life.
“Every time I met one of his colleagues or friends, they would tell me how he was constantly sharing my activities and accomplishments with them – and how very proud he was of me. And I knew that.
“My Father’s love and support was unwavering. Politically, my Father and I saw eye-to-eye about as much as Henry and Jane Fonda. (But we closed that gap in recent years).
“I threw him a few curves now and then. Each time I found his love to be like the mountain – steadfast and unmoving. I always knew that he stood behind me. He was always there for me.
“He never lectured me about how to live – he taught through the example of how he lived.
“My Father was a man of integrity, with a passionate dedication/devotion to his family and his profession. He was a man, above all, of Principle. And he walked his talk.
“From observing him I learned to know what to believe in and why; to expect to have to defend those beliefs, and when the going got tough, to expect to have to stand alone. My Fatherstood for what he believed in – and he never looked around or behind him to see if anyone else was there.
“In the height of his service to the political bodies of MAOP&S and the AOA, the allopaths labeled him “The Militant D.O.” I thought that was pretty neat.
“If my Father disagreed with you, you didn’t have to guess about it, because he would be in your face with it. He respectedHonesty and he had no use for those who practiced anything less.
“My Father was a man of deep conviction, and quiet dignity. One day I was standing on the shore of the lake behind our house in West Bloomfield. I saw a man chasing down some Canadian Geese with his small motorboat. He had 2 children in the boat with him. I yelled to him to stop it, and he turned his boat and aimed it directly towards me as he came in to shore. When he got close enough he started to taunt me for yelling out to him. He wanted to know my name.
“What’s your name,” he demanded sarcastically. I got a little nervous and looked over towards my Dad, who had been standing off to the side observing all this.
“Go ahead,” he said to me with a quiet strength and dignity, “Tell him your name.”
“That one defining moment typified how he taught me. He never stole my thunder. He would not fight my battles for me. But he was always there by my side. Like a rock.
“In the past 6 months, we’ve had the gift of spending a lot of time together, and I am extremely grateful for this time with him.
“There is a saying – “God, Where are you not?” My Father brought 11,000 babies into this world – that’s 11,000 extensions of Phil Adler’s gifts as a healer walking around.
“As many memories as all of us carry – those here today and those who could not be here: He lives now through us.
“Perhaps the greatest tribute I could pay to my Father is to say that amongst Traditional Societies, my Father would be acknowledged as a Warrior of great valor and A Chief amongst his People.
“Today I ask you to join me in celebrating the gift of Philip Adler to this world. And to celebrate that today he is free. He is in the Wind, the Rain, the Sun, and the Stars.
“It is with thanksgiving and appreciation that we will remember this world is a better place because the one known as Philip Adler, D.O., has passed this way and touched our lives.”
Prayer Said for My Father Every Night for 4 Nights, Looking Out the West Window of His Bedroom
Beloved of God and Honest Deeds.
You have now dropped your overcoat,
the physical altar you called body.
I am praying with you,
Listen now to these words and understand
Now comes the dawn of reality
And you enter the period of transition.
Let go of false vision
And the ideas of pain and suffering
Move quickly and be free
Return to where you began
In Light, in Spirit,
in Harmony, in Love
Remembering My Mom
Ethel Irene Kugler Adler was a gentle, loving human being who treasured life in all its precious forms. She was more than just an “animal lover” – she was a guardian and caretaker. She would offer shelter to baby birds fallen from the nest, little ducklings separated from their mother, stray cats, injured dogs. She even let me bring a frog with a broken leg home from day camp and keep it in our tub for a week, applying vaseline to the torn skin on its one leg until it healed. Then I had to return it to its pond.
She let me bring “critters” like that to visit, but I always had to return them to their natural habitat. “How would you feel,” she would always say, “if someone took you away from us like that and never let you go back.”
She was a regular supporter of the Michigan Humane Society, the World Wildlife Fund, the Doris Day organization in New York that never destroyed any strays, and countless other animal assistance organizations.
She loved planting flowers around the houses we lived in and she had a definite talent for nurturing flourishing African Violets.
She fell in love with Africa and she and my Dad went on several trips on “photographic safari.” She was always so full of life when she shared about the sights, the sounds, the animals, the people. She was like a little girl again, filled with wonder.
I was in the room with her when she died and she came out of a semi-coma to make one last connection with me. She opened one eye and nailed me with a glance so focused, lucid and purposeful, it drew me forward towards her. “Mom?” I said. Then she laid back and was gone.
As I cleared out her “keepsakes” I discovered that she had kept every card, every thing I had ever made for her as a kid, every news clipping and momento of my school accomplishments, music programs, performances – from nursery school through college and beyond. She had dad’s love letters and all the over-sized cards he had gifted her with on Christmas, Easter, birthdays, anniversaries – well, you get the picture. She treasured all of it. She loved us.
We were friends while I was growing up. We would take driving tours to the cider mill, Cranbrook Gardens, another mall 60 miles away, or just drive around “in the country” and admire the houses and farms we would see on the land. We talked, we laughed. We used to listen to Don McNeil’s Breakfast Club on the radio, and watch Days of Our Lives and other TV soaps together.
Dad would bring money home every Friday and she would divvy it up into envelopes. She had “funds” for everything – Christmas, Easter, vacations, emergencies – for her, Dad and myself. Oh yes, and she would save for her beloved Hummel figurines that she collected. She could stretch the little money given her to the nth degree!
There was a photograph she took of a giraffe and its babies on one of her African trips. She saved up and commissioned a painting by a local artist, and then a sculpture by another local artist.
She impressed me as being from a generation removed, and in fact, in that she had me when she was 41, she was technically old enough to be my grandmother.
She didn’t swear. She wasn’t a saint, but she was a gentle being. She didn’t really understand cruelty in any form. I remember trying to find a parking space at a mall once when all of a sudden she slammed on the brakes and yelled, “look at that!” She was beside herself because someone had left a dog shut inside a car on a hot day with no windows down.
She gave up her career as a registered nurse to be a wife and mother because that was what women of her generation did. Below is a poem I discovered in one of her favorite collections.
One of my Mother’s favorite books was Life’s Highway, a collection of poems by Edgar Guest.
Inside the book that was inscribed with her name, Ethel Kugler, January 30, 1934 (her birthday), I found a poem handwritten in her perfectly symmetrical script.
Too Tired To Pray
She thought, when night had finally ended day,
“Dear Lord, tonight I am too tired to pray,”
And wearily she closed her eyes in sleep,
Slipping far into the shadowed deep.
Up in Heaven the dear Lord heard and smiled.
“Today she soothed a little, crying child.
She stopped her work to take old Ella Kloop
A fragrant, warming bowl of her good soup.
Her house was orderly, her garden tended.
Her children fed, their clothes all clean and mended.
Her husband, home from work, found happiness
And quiet peace in her deep gentleness.”
The dear Lord smiled again. “Too tired to pray?
Her hands have offered prayers of love all day!”