Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Every kid should have an Aunt Alice. This is the aunt who assumes the role of the surrogate mother. When your own mother is too busy being the mom, there is Aunt Alice. My parents were both from Europe and very much not hip. But Aunt Alice understood hip and sometimes even stood up for me against my parent's wishes so that I could be a typical kid. She was a little younger than my own mother, dressed in suits and business dresses and worked in a New York City office. At 12 years old, I considered that the utmost in hip. Alice loved New York. Every few months, she would take my brother and I on sightseeing trips to New York City. She introduced us to museums, the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty and, her favorite, the Radio City Christmas Show. One of the best parts of the day was when Alice would give my brother and me a couple of nickels and turned us loose at the Horn and Hardart's Automat. She took me to my first performance of the New York City Ballet and my brother to his first Yankee game. She even took me to see the Beatles in Shea Stadium - twice! Always reading, Alice was a wealth of knowledge and interest. She was one of the original bobby soxers who waited on line to see Frank Sinatra in the Paramount. She could discuss current events, argue politics and reminisce about the war years in a way that made you feel so close to the era. It was factual, and fascinating. On Monday morning, Aunt Alice died at the age of 86. She had been in a nursing home for the last three years. At the time I put her there, she had fallen several times and I didn't know what else to do to keep her safe. Although it wasn't easy for her to give up her apartment, she agreed to go because it was best for everyone. During those three years, she never once complained about being there. In fact, she would tell me she was happy there. I believe she was. She enjoyed the company of her friends who visited her, the other residents, and of me. All she wanted was someone to converse with and I know she got that. She had her few minutes of fame when she worked for Dover Publication and they were looking for a grandmother type to appear on the cover of a booklet on family trees. It didn't take much for her to look the part. It came natural. Although she didn't have children, she had surrogates. She had me, my brother and about 10 other "children" who she adopted or adopted her. That was Alice and I am going to miss her terribly.