Wednesday, April 25, 2012

There's Still Stories to Tell

When my mom and dad met on that fateful blind date nearly 51 years ago, they soon discovered a common bond, both were only children.   That is why, growing up, I watched with envy as my friends bragged about family gatherings with a myriad of aunts, uncles, and first cousins.  For I had none.

I often wondered why both sets of grandparents stopped at just one.  On my mother's side, the answer came in the form of my grandmother's unfortunate hysterectomy following a miscarriage.  On my father's side, well, I'll never know.

Holiday dinners featured a dining room table where my grandparents, great-aunts and uncles broke bread.  My paternal grandfather's younger sister, my great-aunt Elaine, a professional dancer, also taught her craft to ballarinas in training.   His older sister, my great-aunt Lynn, a feminist even before the term was coined, had a professional career in non-profit management, and served in the army.  

On rare occassions, we were joined by my maternal grandfather's sister, my great-aunt Rosie and her husband Sidney.  Natives of Harrisburg, PA, he owned a grocery store while she worked as a buyer for a department store and dabbled in antiques on the side.

All had their eccentricities, making close relationships challenging, although I wish I had tried harder.  For so many stories never shared, so much family history never recorded....and now it is too late.

Over the past two decades, Lynn succumbed to Alzheimer's disease, while Elaine's heart finally gave out.  The only one still with us is Rosie, but unfortunately, she has not been "with us" for a generation, when an enstrangement that can trace its roots to something stupid tore a rift in our family.  That is why it came as such a shock when my mother received a phone call from a woman in Harrisburg, informing her that aunt Rosie, now 90, had recently moved into a nursing home.

The call brought out an extreme of emotions in my mother.   Should she make the two hour drive to Harrisburg and risk a less than warm reception?   Memories of their last unpleasant encounter hung in the balance, preventing rationale thought, and keeping logic at bay.  Finally, after talking to my sister Bev and me, she planned her "operation reunion" strategy.   I pulled out a family photo taken during my 14-year old daughter Melissa's Bat Mitzvah last year, when we were all dressed to the nines!  My mom placed the photo and a brief but cheerful handwritten letter into an envelope, firmly secured the stamp, placed the letter in the box......and waited.

A week later, my mom called me, brimming with excitement.  Seems Rosie had been overjoyed at the unexpected correspondence.  She sent a letter in reply, congratulating my mother for all she had achieved, and rejoicing with pride over our beautiful family.  Yes, she had missed my sister's wedding, my wedding, and my brother's wedding.  She had missed the birth of my daughter, nephew and niece.  She had missed birthday parties and holiday dinners and countless moments in their young lives. 

But perhaps, despite the passage of time, maybe, just maybe, there are still stories left to be told.
"Like" my blog's Facebook page by clicking the link at the top right side of this blog!

Comments and feedback are encouraged and welcome. For some reason, many people have told me they have left a comment, but it has not appeared. To leave a comment, click on the arrow next to "comment as", then choose "anonymous". If you would like to include your name, please leave your name in the body of your post. Once you have posted your comment and chosen anonymous, then hit publish. Check the page the make sure your comment appeared. You can also "Like" my blog's Facebook page and comment there - like button is on the upper right side of this page.


  1. This is a beautiful story! I'm so glad your mother was able to reconcile with her Aunt Rosie. Having an estrangement in the family can be so painful, but you've just shown us that it's never too late. Capture the stories while you can!

  2. What memories did this bring back..... I do so want to take that ride to Harrisburgh w/ mommy/daddy to see Aunt Rosie,and I hope it happens soon. It's never tooo late to reconcile. You only have one family. Beautiful story!!!!!

  3. LOVE this post! (I'm so behind on your blog posts ... sorry!) There's more to this blog post ... I hope you'll share more with us soon. :)