Aunt #1

When I was a toddler, I couldn’t pronounce her name, so I came up with a garbled nickname that I no longer use. I’ve thought about bringing it back. I think she would like that.

Aunt #1 is the only sibling of my mother whom I have ever met. She came to America after my mother had established a beachhead of sorts in this nation.

Her sensibilities are such that, once when I was a kid, I referred to someone as a “sucker,” and she lectured me on vulgarity and propriety and respect for others until I apologized. She would not be pleased to know, alas, that “sucker” is among the least profane words I use on a daily basis as an adult.

Shortly after Aunt #1 moved to America, she met a man from Puerto Rico, got married, and had three daughters (Cousins #1, #3, and #5). A quarter-century later, she divorced him. Years later, when he was stricken with cancer, she took care of him. For those of us who know her, it was an unsurprising display of patience and compassion.

Aunt #1 is the most religious member of my family. Each year, she uses a chunk of her vacation time to go on a spiritual retreat. It’s with monks and hours of meditation and no talking and everything. It requires far more dedication, faith, and discipline than I could ever conjure.

To be sure, Aunt #1 is certainly not the Bible-thumping “You’re all going to hell if you don’t agree with me” kind of fundamentalist nutjob who has given the religion a bad name. In fact, when one of the cousins came out as a lesbian, Aunt #1 offered her love, despite the huge Catholic no-no that this announcement signified.

She actually tries to live all that “Love they neighbor” and “Turn the other cheek” stuff that that many Christians reject – you know, the hard stuff. She would preach the importance of tolerance, if she preached at all, that is.

Aunt #1 is that rarest of subspecies: an actual Christian.


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October 2008
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