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In a world of endless talk and indiscriminate din, Diane “Bibi” Weinstein was an exceptional listener. For 34 years, she counseled students at Harvard’s Bureau of Study Council. She loved the Bureau’s Latin motto, humbly translated as, "Nobody else knows anything either."
"I always felt my mom’s office was like a living room. There’s a couch and a fireplace, and it’s very cozy," Diane's daughter, Rachel Weinstein, remembers. She would cartwheel around her mother's front office as a girl. "And so for my mom, it was way more than a workplace."
Way more than a job, too. Listening closely was a life philosophy; a form of gazing out together. Diane started with a comforting premise: all of us—therapist and client, parent and child—are unformed, uncertain and utterly worthy.
"I think that was what Mom held as being human," Rachel says. "None of us are perfect and we’re all works in progress."
Once, Rachel remembers, her mother listened while she struggled with an undecided crisis. Diane was already struggling herself with cancer, but had insisted on coming over. Bottomless empathy was offered, and yet, not a word of advice.
"In all of that process I never knew whether she thought it was a good idea or not. I had some inklings from some questions and some reflections, but there was never that level of direction," Rachel recalls.
Though avidly interested in everyone, Diane seemed only mildly interested in herself.
"My mom did not like being the center of attention," Rachel claims. "She wasn’t good at small talk and chatter. She really wanted to have the real conversations."
Always, whether the table was metaphorical or real, Diane seated others first.
"Even little things—at dinner, I would say, 'Mom do you want some more salad?' She’d say 'No, no, I’m good.' But if nobody else took more, then she would eat more after. You knew she wanted more, but she had to take care of everybody else first," remembers Rachel.
When Diane’s adored oldest grandchild Omri was born, she flew out to California to help. On top of the customary newborn chaos, the rental apartment’s dishwasher door wouldn’t close. Diane cradled the baby in her arms while pushing one leg against the door, until the cycle finished. She managed to care for everyone, simply by holding it all in place.
Did you know Diane Weinstein? Share your memories in the comments section.
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