My beloved aunt Dora died last night. She was only 84 and full of life, so the news came as a very sad shock. I imagine she was still teaching yoga. I know she was still interested in movies and books, politics and culture. I got an email from her just a couple of weeks ago, responding to my wishes for a happy new year.
I am going to miss her generous appetite for life and laughter.
She was my mother's sister. They were very close. When my sisters and I were kids, every time we had an argument, which was often, my mom used to boast that she never ever argued with aunt Dora. I found this impossible to believe (how can anybody not fight?), but indeed, I never saw them argue. I now suspect Mom wasn't bluffing. She could not fathom why we were at each other's throats, while she and Dora were always the best of friends.
Dora was warm, charming, funny, and delightful company. You could talk to her about any subject under the sun. Mom and her fed off each others' robust sense of humor. They invented a non-existent millionaire uncle from Australia, Uncle Wilbur, who never met us, but was going to leave us his enormous inheritance nonetheless. They made up endless puns in Yiddish, Spanish, English and French. They lovingly nicknamed their podiatrist, "Buster", in honor of Buster Keaton, since he never smiled either. They called Gregory Peck "Peckory Greg", and Tyrone Power something to do with the word for fart in Spanish. And so it went on.
They were always ready to make good-natured fun of things, but they did not have a mean streak. Anita and Dora were sophisticated and salt of the earth. And Dora was always fun. She had a sunny nature.
She made it a family tradition to close the Passover seder by channeling her inner mezzo-soprano at the very end refrain of Chad Gadia, the very last melody of a very long evening. She brought down the house every year. It is safe to say that her wisecracks contributed to make all our family occasions much more fun than average. And in adversity, she rallied, and let that bright sunshine of hers peep out even when she was sad.
She traveled the world and was welcome everywhere. She got along with everybody. I will miss her enveloping warmth, which I think is what best describes her, a radiant, cozy, comfy, warmth. I will miss her big heart, her sonorous laughter, and the mischievous sparkle in her eyes.