© 2014, Gadi Bossin
P.O. Box 20
Kiryat Bialik, Israel
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This book contains material protected under International and Federal Copyright Laws and Treaties. Any unauthorized reprint or use of this material is prohibited. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without express written permission from the author.
AUNTIE DAISY: PART ONE
Auntie Daisy died on Tuesday, the 11th of January 2005.
She was the last of my mother’s siblings.
My cousin Walter wrote to tell me:
HI GEDDY–MOM PASSED AWAY ADOUT 3:15PM THIS AFTERNOON. IT WAS VERY PEACEFUL. WE HAVE LOST A TREASURE. WE WERE SO FORTUNATE TO HAVE HER FOR 90 YEARS. SHE HAS SET A HIGH BAR TO FOLLOW. THE FUNERAL IS GOING TO BE THURSDAY…SHIVA AT MY HOUSE. I WILL CALL YOU WHEN THINGS SETTLE. MUCH LOVE. WALTER.
My last telephone conversation with Auntie Daisy was a few weeks before she died. She was absolutely clear-headed, even though my Montreal cousins Shayna and Lee and Walter himself had warned me not to expect her to be.
I was lucky enough not to ever hear her confused and incoherent. There wasn’t even one time when I called that Auntie Daisy wasn’t alert and completely with it.
And her voice always sounded the same, the way I imagined my mother’s voice sounded.
I have no memory of my mother’s voice, so it was always Auntie Daisy’s voice that I heard when I tried to imagine my mother speaking to me.
Auntie Daisy always asked about Carol, always remembered to say how wonderful Raviv, Maayan and Orly were and never forgot to say thank you for the call.
Here and there, she got her facts wrong. Sometimes she forgot things I had already told her in previous calls. But it was always an easy call, always a pleasure to speak with her.
Our final call was no different.
I called her at home. She had returned from an extended stay in the hospital just a few days before.
Her caregiver, Amelia, answered the phone, perked up when she heard my voice and said, “I’ll give your aunt the phone right away. She’ll be pleased you called.”
“Hello, Geddy,” Auntie Daisy said in the same way she’d said “hello” to me so many times before.
There was always something just a bit surprised in her “hello.”
It was as if to say, “How is it you’re calling from so far away?”
Auntie Daisy never did accept that picking up the phone in Israel and dialing a Florida number was just as easy as calling next door.
She belonged to the generation that remembered shouting when you called long distance. Not that she shouted. No. She was always soft-spoken, always a lady.
“How are you?”
“Well, you know. I’m an old lady now. I’m ninety.”
“Ah, you’re not so old.”
“I want to make a hundred.”
“I know you do.”
“Geddy, how’s Carol?”
“She’s fine. She’s working hard, like always. And she’s still beautiful, like you’re still beautiful, Auntie Daisy.”
“Geddy, you always say that.”
“Well, you are. You’re my beautiful Auntie Daisy. I always thought you were beautiful, even when I was a little boy.”
“Geddy,” she said with a mildly scolding tone. “Don’t be silly. Stop flirting with your old aunt.”
“I’m not flirting. I mean it.”
“What’s new with Raviv and Maayan and Orly?”
I gave my report. “Raviv’s preparing for exams. So is Maayan. Orly’s doing a volunteer year in her youth movement before going into the army.”
“You must be very proud of them.”
“I am, Auntie Daisy. I am.”
“And how’s it going between Maayan and her boyfriend? What’s his name? Dudi?”
“No, Auntie Daisy. Maayan and Dudi split up two years ago. She has a new boyfriend now. Daniel. He lives in Chicago.”
“Is it serious?”
“It could be, but I don’t know for sure.”
After a few minutes of this kind of light conversation, she tired.
“Geddy, thank you so much for calling. But it must be expensive for a long call. I don’t want you to go broke.”
“It’s not so expensive,” I protested. All our calls ended this way.
“I love you, Geddy.”
“I love you, too, Auntie Daisy.”
Auntie Daisy was the last and the closest link I had to my mother.
She was my mother’s only full-blood sister, three years and seven months her senior.
Now she’s gone, the last of the Brodys.
My mother was the first to pass away in 1949.
Uncle Al, Shayna and Lee’s father, died of cancer in 1973. He was 65.
My mother’s two half-sisters were next, Auntie Nina in the late-Eighties (she was 64) and Auntie Rosie in 2000 at age 80.
In 2003, Uncle Leo passed away at 92.
And now it was Auntie Daisy.
Auntie Daisy had been in and out of the hospital for years before she died.
In her last year, her health deteriorated even more and I knew I had to see her again soon.
She was almost ninety.
We had a trip planned to visit Carol’s family in Chicago in August 2004.
I decided I’d take a side trip to Florida to visit Auntie Daisy for a couple of days.
I purchased my round-trip ticket via the Internet before leaving Israel. I was all set to go.
The day before my departure, Walter called me in Chicago and said, “Geddy, there’s a problem.”
“What? You can’t come to the airport?” I asked.
We’d already discussed where I’d meet Walter at the Fort Lauderdale Airport so he wouldn’t have to park his car and wait for me at the gate.
“I can manage. Don’t worry.”
“No. That’s not it. You should turn on the Weather Channel and check out the news on Hurricane Frances.”
“Okay. I haven’t been paying too much attention to it. I figured I’d get into Fort Lauderdale without any trouble. The hurricane hasn’t made land yet.”
“That’s true. But, Geddy, you’d better not come. You’ll get stuck here. You might get in, but you won’t get out on your scheduled return flight and then you’ll miss your flight back to Israel.”
“Uh-huh. I understand.”
“I’ve got Rebecca and the grandchildren here. We all have to move inland.”
“I understand you have your hands full now, Walter. Okay. I won’t come. I’ll talk to you later. Give my love to Auntie Daisy.”
“Yeah. She’s disappointed, but she knows it’s best if you don’t fly in now.”
I understood that the chances were I’d never see her again.
As it turned out, I was right.