Friday, November 8, 2013

Aunt Sharon

I am not sure has ever lived a woman who had so much capacity to love and was loved by so many. While one might examine her life and focus on her struggles, when you were with her, one on and one, you never really felt them, even though over the last few years they were so visible. You just felt tremendous love from her.

Anytime you left my aunt Sharon’s house, it was like you received a love transfusion.

As her niece, whenever I doubted anything in life, especially myself, there was always one absolute truth: my aunt Sharon loved me. She thought I was beautiful. She told me every time I saw her.

When I was with my Aunt Sharon, I was a different kid. I wasn’t the serious book nerd/tomboy. She was the aunt that did my hair, (Princess Leah style for one of my brother’s bar mitzvahs) and painted my nails. She was the only person who could get me excited about my looks and jewelry.  I spent a lot of time at her house when I was a kid. A lot. We played a ton of cards. I drew a hundreds of pictures there. I jumped on the trampoline in the basement. I played with her dogs, even though now everyone knows I don’t really like dogs.  But I always liked Aunt Sharon’s dogs. Always. I played on her piano, and she enjoyed it, and told me I could keep playing, even though she needed to rest. With my aunt I did things that I never enjoyed doing and still don’t. However, when I was with her, it was fun: garage sales and flee markets.  Her excitement and her enthusiasm got me on board.

The only things she ever criticized were my nails and hair: "Mamashayna, don't chew your nails," she would say lovingly. I have curbed the habit and when she has seen me, she always comments.  For my hair she would say, "Mamshayna, why don't you wear your hair back, you have such a beautiful face, a shayna punim."

I don’t know why this is such a strong memory, but I remember when I was a teenager, I drove her in her van. It was incredibly hard to drive. I was really too small to be driving it, but she had absolute patience and plenty of laughter as I spent 45 minutes getting out of her garage.

I will really miss all of the Yiddish that she through into every conversation.  I’ll miss her singing. I’ll miss her love of off colored jokes.

 If you had to make a list of the people my aunt loved, it would be super long, including countless friends around the country. During the last few years, she even loved the people with whom she had previously feuded.

However, the list of people who loved her would be even longer.

But there would be asterisks for super-sized love for her kids, Ruth and David, their spouses, Rob and Elizabeth, and her six grandchildren, Samantha, Allison, Noah, Zachary, Brandon and Jeremy.   She really loved her first cousins. She would talk about them all of the time. She loved my brothers and their families. She loved my husband and daughter. She loved my husband the first time she met him. It was amazing. It was just instantaneous. I am so grateful that she met him and got to see me married and with a child. I know that was important to her and made her happy and relieved.

 The people though that I think she loved the most, besides her kids, were my mom and dad, especially my mom, who she referred to as her baby sister.

 I was lucky enough to Facetime with her last week.  We chatted and she saw Maya crawling around. I talked to her this week as well.  The last time I saw her, however, was the end of July. I had been home to South Bend quite a bit during the summer, because of the move to Israel. Before I left, she said, “Shayna Rana, don’t forget about me.”  I promised her that of course I wouldn’t. Then when Lior and I got into the car with Maya, I cried because I found it unbearable that she thought that I might.

But, what I think she was saying, even subconsciously, is don’t forget about her because that would the last time I would see her, hold her hand, tell her that I love her and she tell me that she loves me. She always made me kiss her on both sides of her cheek. 

One of the hardest parts of moving to Israel was leaving my nieces and nephew.  When my niece Talia was born 16 years ago, I promised I would be the same kind of aunt that my aunt Sharon was to me.  I definitely have not reached that bar. I lived on the same street at my aunt; she was a third mother to me. Now, not only do I not live on the same street at my nieces and nephew, I live across an ocean.

But I do think that they know, or they will know, that my love for them is absolute and unconditional, and always will be.

After all, I learned from the best. 

1 comment:

Tela Schulman-Hektor said...

Sharna: Your Tribute to your Aunt Sharon is beautiful and Eric's reading of it made an awesome eulogy to the wonderful person she was. It was delightful reading how, 30 years later, you still remember how important she made YOU feel at 6 years old with the hairdo on your brother's special Bar Mitzvah day. By the way, Sharon also got me to quit biting my nails. She bought the bitter polish herself and painted it on several days a week until I was aware of what I was doing and stopped! Small memories of a Great Lady will keep her alive in all our hearts. Thank you for the beautiful tribute. Tela