by Bob Schwartz
My Aunt Rose has died.
Aunts and uncles are a unique category. In most cases, but not all, they are not quite as close as parents, but in other ways more fun, interesting, exciting, understanding, and comforting.
My uncle Herbie died too soon, many years ago. That was long before blogs or any of my family chronicles. Maybe this will prompt me to finally get around to his stories, which are worthy of a novel, but for now, this is Rose’s moment.
My family was large above my parents’ generation. They grew up with a big circle of aunts and uncles and seemingly dozens of cousins. But my parents themselves had only one sibling apiece, and on top of that, my father was estranged from his brother. So I really had only one aunt and uncle. But given how special they were, that was enough.
Special, and beautiful. That would be my aunt. Herbie was beautiful inside, my Mom’s deservedly adored baby brother, but I’m not sure how he would have done in a beauty contest. Rose was maybe the first stunningly gorgeous woman I had ever been close to (not that my Mom was shabby, of course). Her parents were Mexican, gracious and sweet, and her mother was just as striking. That heritage would be the source of its own tsuris (Yiddish for “trouble”), as my grandparents refused to accept her into the family for years—even though the couple lived blocks away.
There is no paradise on earth. A nephew has a different and less tense or intense experience of an aunt than her children do, just a grandparents look more ideal to grandchildren than to the parents in the middle. When I grew up, Rose looked and acted like an angel to me. An angel she was, and still is.