Today I’m going to write about my aunts, dead and alive.
My Great Aunt Riri comes first. Her real name was Loretta. Her nickname was Riri (“Ree Ree”), and her husband’s name was Mealy. I honestly don’t know if that was his real name or not. To me it sounds like some matzo ball mix, but I never heard him referred as anything else. Riri and Mealy lived in a big house in Brooklyn with Riri’s sister (my grandmother Sylvia, who we called Nana, “Nanner”), her husband Ike, their daughter Robinette (she was my mom), their son Lanny and Riri and Sylvia’s parents. Imagine!
Riri had a great sense of humor, which may have led to me thinking that maybe she was a big drinker too, like my mom and her grandmother. However, my dad called me today and said,
“Riri was not a drinker at all”.
That was kind of comforting to hear. Apparently women on my maternal side can have a good time without getting bombed first, because she was hysterical. She had the tiniest nose I had ever seen. She may have been one of the original Dr. Diamond nose job patients, if he was even born when she had her nose done. Her nose was just a tiny little point on her face. I remember her dressing up at a Hippie Party that my grandparents held for Ikey’s 60th birthday and she wore gigantic sunglasses, accenuating the tininess of her nose. Mealy was wearing a diaper if I recall correctly (usually I don’t now that I’m fifty, but that’s how I remember it). Okay, that’s all I can say about Riri, other than she used to talk on the phone to my mom late at night for hours and hours, well after my dad had gone to sleep. After all, he had to get up before sunrise to bring home the bacon.
Aunt Andrea is my father’s younger sister. I have always adored her and felt that she and I were somewhat kindred spirits. She is extremely intelligent and knows something about everything in the world (sort of like my brother Blaine, only in female form, with a higher voice). Andrea always knew about movies and shows and restaurants in the city when I lived out on Long Island growing up, and I loved to hear her rattle off all of the places she had been and the things she had done.
Andrea grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the youngest of three children. First was my Uncle Byron who has been dead for seventeen years, then my dad, and finally Andrea. You would never think she came from Oklahoma. She is cosmopolitan and sophisticated. She lived on Park Avenue for years, raising my cousin Adam, her only child. She had two husbands and they both died from cancer. She has always kept a very positive outlook on life and has never had a Pity Party (that I’ve been invited to at least). She moved out to Scottsdale, Arizona years ago and I miss her terribly, but enjoy her summer visits to New York. She always wants to see a show every day — sometimes two — and eat at all the newest and best places. She speaks faster than anyone else I know, and my dad says that she is also the fastest woman on the planet when she goes to the bathroom. She swears that she washes her hands though, and I believe her.
My Aunt Joanne is not really my aunt. She was my mom’s best friend growing up in Brooklyn. It ended up that my Aunt Joanne is also my boyfriend’s Aunt Joanne. His mom is very close friends with her too (and my parents and his parents were friends before either of us were born, which is just totally weird). Everybody loves Aunt Joanne. She has three great children and five grandchildren.
Aunt Joanne goes from Florida to Maine, depending on the season. She is the nicest person I know, and I make certain to visit her every time I’m in Florida if she’s around. She reminds me of my mother, and knows my whole family history, which not many people do at this point.
Aunt Joanne’s husband had M.S. and was sick for a very long time. She cared for him with love, patience and grace, never complaining as he lost his ability to feed himself and take care of himself. She never made him feel badly and stood by his side. She is a wonderful person and there is not enough of her to go around. She is so cool that she even went to see the Michael Jackson documentary “This Is It” with me and my friend Lorrie, and she loved it just like we did.
I had one more Great Aunt during my lifetime. Her name was Ann and she was Ikey’s younger sister. Aunt Ann had a clean fetish. She sent me hundreds of toilet seat covers as a gift when I left for college. Supposedly she made men clean their private parts before she would have “relations” with them. She was never married. I think that was because she was in love with her brother and no other man could hold a candle to him.
I don’t think she ever had a good day.