She is a German Jew who moved with her parents and siblings to Palestine at a young age. At 17 she fell in love with a handsome Arab man, Fehmi. They married in 1944. In 1948 they traveled from Palestine for Lebanon, and subsequently Syria, where they remained for nine years. A doctor gave harsh news to the young couple that Fehmi had Multiple Sclerosis. Friends suggested that they go to the United States for treatment. The consulate, however, did not initially allow them to leave. After reviewing their papers, and realizing that Claire was a German citizen, they were given two weeks to leave the country.
They sold off their belongings and started a new life together. Doctors in the states reviewed Fehmi’s case and concluded that he was misdiagnosed. With that good news, he traveled to Chicago where he helped build new roads. As a civil engineer, he was involved in the building of the second Delaware Memorial Bridge, the Throgs Neck Bridge, and consulted in the engineering of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge!
Fehmi and Claire raised a beautiful family – three daughters (Lamia, Rana and Mona) and one son (Gary), and she started creating beautiful pieces of art using crewel and needlepoint.
About five years ago, Claire went to live with her middle daughter Rana. She never complained, and spent much of her time creating her artistic masterpieces. Last summer, Rana and her husband planned a vacation and wanted a place for her mother to stay. It was actually “family” that referred her to Brandywine Senior Living – Claire’s granddaughter is married to another resident’s grandson (ironically, another Claire). Rana explained to Claire that it would only be a two-week respite stay.
When Rana came to pick up Claire, she had no idea why she hadn’t packed. Claire shares, “When she came to pick me up, I told her that Susan (Community Relations Director) wanted to speak with her.”
“I was surprised when Susan told me that my mother didn’t want to come home. She was having too much fun at Brandywine! I just wanted her to be happy.” says Rana.
“I miss my cat Lucy. She’s 20 years old!” beams 91-year-old Claire. But that’s really all she misses of her old life. “I didn’t want to leave,” says Claire. “I have so much to do here. I get to talk to others and play my favorite game, BINGO.” Rana chimed in to explain, ‘She was alone a lot when she lived with me. I feel like a great weight has lifted with her being here – and being happy.’
Claire proudly shows off years of amazing art pieces in her suite at Brandywine Living at Governor’s Crossing, but more importantly, those made-with-love pieces, her tapestry of love, stay in the family distributed to children and great grandchildren. Rana is now completing a 6-piece tapestry that Claire started – a mother’s vision with her daughter’s handiwork.
Recently, a video and scrapbook was lovingly organized to show off 50 years of her inspiring art. When you look at her magnificent pieces displayed, you notice the love, commitment, discipline, and vibrant colors – just like her life.