Saturday, February 25, 2006

My great Aunt Ethel is a 102 this month. She lives at home, she still remembers me. When I was little and my other great aunt was checking behind my ears, she was always asking me what was on my mind. She married once when she was twenty and he died a few years later. I don't how or why, I don’t even know his name. All my life she lived alone, traveled the world alone, brought me back crumpled money in an envelope.

I thought she was the bravest woman alive—not only could she put my grandfather in his place but she could ride a camel in Egypt. I come from strong stock, my father would tell me. You come from ocean women, you could live forever. Sometimes this is not a comfort. Sometimes I feel, I need a longer time to hear the lesson.

The human brain is an interesting landscape. My aunt can read anything; she will not know who you are, then if you give her a slip of paper, she will ask about your children, your divorce. She will asked about the weather in Minnesota, b/c that little slip of paper with your name, clicks something on which can not be turned on any other way.

Today I want to write TERESA---only my first name b/c my last name always confuses me. I have been given a few and I have chosen one--maybe I will write down all my names.

I want to sit in that space, next to someone who has lived, survived alone. I want to write it all down on piece of paper, all the questions I have. I want to listen, hold her hand—wait for her to speak.

3 comments:

michi said...

wow. 102, no less. my great aunt resi is 95 and totally fit, only getting a little hard of hearing. that woman would be the best teacher for "think positive" seminars. a couple of years ago she slipped, fell down the stairs, smashed her shoulder. others would have given up, prepared to die. not her. she refused painkillers at the hospital though she must have been in terrible pain, did all her exercises and was out again in no time. when asked how she is, she will always, without fail, say: oh i'm fine, i'm always fine. she does not want people to admire her for being so brave after the accident. she says, that arm is now better than the other one, perhaps she should try falling down the stairs again.

amazing, and the opposite of her sister, my grandma, now going on 89, but who's always complaining about some little ailment or other and who, IMO, lets herself go a little too much.

michi

Patry Francis said...

Here's to Aunt Ethel!

LJCohen said...

Your great aunt is of the same 'stock' as my grandmother who would have been 102 on March 15th. To have such role models on ones life is a blessing.

best,
Lisa