Today I had the sad pleasure of attending the burial service for my Aunt Florence ("Florrie" to her children and grandchildren). Florrie was the last of her generation, 92 years young at the time of her death. She was a strong woman, an incredible role model of what women could (and should) be, yet very modest about her accomplishments. In his eulogy, my cousin Norman talked about her sense of humor, her family and her fierce intellect.
My last memory of her was three years ago, at another cousin's wedding. The reception featured a vodka bar, but Aunt Florrie wanted a martini. An appletini, too be exact. She even enticed my father into trying one for the first time in his life, mostly by challenging him to be adventurous (I vaguely remember "you can always throw it out" crossing her lips).
Her sons followed her lead, becoming smart, independent, interesting people in their own right. Her younger son, David, has made his living as an artist of sorts. At one time, he had a silkscreen clothing business in NYC (I still have a thermal shirt he did). Today, he still does his Beanie the Singing Dog art and music.
Norman, the older brother, took a while to find his path, but he's now a respected Rabbi who helped marry my sister and who both married and serves as rabbi to my friend Francey's congregation. I am in awe of his strength, and today he outdid himself. Imagine how difficult it must be to not only plan your parent's funeral but to also conduct the service - to whom do you turn for guidance and counsel and comfort? Add to that the fact that he drove, over 12 hours, from home and funeral to cemetary and burial with his mother's encasketed body in the back of his car. Could you do that? I couldn't, but Aunt Florrie's son certainly could.
I've been blessed with wonderful relatives on both sides of my family. Even though some are no longer physically with us, they're here, in my heart.
God bless them all.