She always said “I love you” / Ella siempre decía “te amo”

La versión en español está después de la versión en inglés.

My father had a younger sister, Florence. She died in Florida two days ago at the age of 93. I was awful at staying in touch. She and my uncle Artie, my godparents, did once visit us and take us out to dinner in Santa Barbara. That was a perfect visit.

I had been planning for months to phone and I never got around to it. I recently texted her younger daughter, my cousin Sheree, to wish her a happy birthday and learned that her mother was in hospice care. Sheree was a devoted daughter, so good to her mother and a great mother herself.

Aunt Florence and my father shared some qualities. People liked them. There was a toughness about them both. A tendency to sum up feelings with phrases like. “Oh, that was a long time ago.” Or “That’s life.” And “What are ya gonna do?” After my father died in 1987, Florence and I were talking about him and she said “He was always a cold fish.” She was not.

She was the only adult in my life I remember telling me “I love you.” She always hugged me often when we were together. She called me names like “bubbeleh” (Yiddish for sweetie). Some members of my mother’s family would invite her and my uncle Artie to holiday events. At one such event, when I was around 19, Aunt Florence, was sitting in a wing chair and slapped her knee telling me to sit down (not something that was done with my other aunts and uncles). I settled my long angles precariously on her knee (she was 5-feet-tall to my 6-foot-two), wrapped my arm around her shoulder, and I gave her a kiss on the cheek. My maternal grandfather was nearby and slapped me on the back. “That’s not nice!” he said. I immediately stood up. He was someone who was obeyed. But once he walked away we both burst out laughing. It was nice. It was also nice to be told “I love you.”

If you’re thinking of calling, call.

Mi padre tenía una hermana menor, Florence. Murió en Florida hace dos días a la edad de 93 años. Era terrible para mantenerme en contacto. Ella y mi tío Artie, mis padrinos, una vez nos visitaron y nos llevaron a cenar a Santa Bárbara. Esa fue una visita perfecta.

Había estado planeando durante meses llamar por teléfono y nunca lo logré. Recientemente le envié un mensaje de texto a su hija menor, mi prima Sheree, para desearle un feliz cumpleaños y me enteré de que su madre estaba bajo cuidados paliativos. Sheree era una hija devota, muy buena con su madre y una gran madre ella misma.

Tía Florence y mi padre compartían algunas cualidades. A la gente le gustaban, aunque tenían cierta dureza. Una tendencia a resumir los sentimientos con frases como. “Eso fue hace mucho tiempo.” O… “Así es la vida”. Y “¿Qué vas a hacer?” Después de la muerte de mi padre en 1987, Florence y yo estábamos hablando de él y ella dijo: “Siempre fue un pez frío”. Ella no era.

Ella fue la única adulta en mi vida que recuerdo decirme “Te amo”. Ella siempre me abrazaba a menudo cuando estábamos juntos. Ella me llamó con nombres como “bubbeleh” (cariño en yiddish). Algunos miembros de la familia de mi madre la invitaban a ella y a mi tío Artie a eventos navideños. En uno de esos eventos, la tía Florence estaba sentada en un sillón y se dio una palmada en la rodilla para decirme que me sentara. Coloqué mis ángulos largos precariamente sobre su rodilla (ella medía 5 pies de altura frente a mi 6 pies y dos), envolví mi brazo alrededor de su hombro y le di un beso en la mejilla. Mi abuelo materno estaba cerca y me dio una palmada en la espalda. “¡Eso no es agradable!” él dijo. Inmediatamente me levanté, pero ambos nos echamos a reír una vez que él se alejó. Fue agradable. También fue agradable que me dijeran “te amo”.

Si estás pensando en llamar, llama.

• Lighting a candle. My bar mitzvah 1967.
• Encender una vela. Mi bar mitzvá de 1967.
• Santa Barbara, California, 2003.
• Santa Bárbara, California, 2003.
• Uncle George, Aunt Florence, my father. Around 1931. The Great Depression. My parents used to argue about who was more poor growing up. My mother would say, “I never had new shoes. They were always hand-me-downs from my sisters.” My father would respond: “You had shoes?!?” It looks like he had shoes, too. At least they resemble shoes.
• Tío George, Tía Florence, mi padre. Alrededor de 1931. La gran Depresión. Mis padres solían discutir sobre quién era más pobre mientras crecía. Mi madre decía: “Nunca tuve zapatos nuevos. Siempre fueron herencia de mis hermanas”. Mi padre respondía: “¿¡¿Tenías zapatos?!?” Parece que él también tenía zapatos. Al menos se parecen a los zapatos.
• The prosperous years. My father had shoes.
• Los años prósperos. Mi padre tenía zapatos.

Author: Moving with Mitchell

From Brooklyn, New York; to North Massapequa; back to Brooklyn; Brockport, New York; back to Brooklyn... To Boston, Massachusetts, where I met Jerry... To Marina del Rey, California; Washington, DC; New Haven and Guilford, Connecticut; San Diego, San Francisco, Palm Springs, and Santa Barbara, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Irvine, California; Sevilla, Spain. And Fuengirola, Málaga..

37 thoughts on “She always said “I love you” / Ella siempre decía “te amo””

  1. Yes, if you’re thinking of calling, follow through. I kept thinking of calling the day my dad died. I put it off for some reason and missed the last opportunity to speak to him.


  2. Mitchell, sorry for your loss. Some aunts are special. Sounds like Florence was one of those. Please take care.

  3. In every photo, she smiles. Her love shines through. So glad you had Aunt Florence in your life and that her kindness and love still brings warmth and happiness to your memories. xx Mary

  4. I am so sorry for your loss; she sounds like a wonderful person.
    Your advice to us all is correct, and thank you for the reminder.
    And I love how you tell a story.

    1. Chrissoup:
      Thanks, Chris. I’ll need to continue to remind myself. It’s good advice not easily taken.

  5. Mitchell, this was such a beautiful post. Your words brought tears to my eyes. And you ended the post perfectly. Life is simply too short for grudges and for not telling someone that you love them. Thanks for the reminder.

      1. Jennifer:
        She was good. She had heartaches that would have soured most people. But she kept herself surrounded by friends and family and continued to enjoy life.

    1. mcpersonalspace54:
      I have some people from my past that I have no intention of calling again. Too much water under the bridge. But those I love need to always know it.

  6. The poignant comments of your other readers have already expressed what I thought as I read about your Aunt Florence. I’m sorry for your loss, bubbela.

    1. Tundra Bunny:
      I loved when she called me bubbeleh. Surprisingly, in my very large Jewish family, she was the only one.

  7. Sorry for your loss. She sounds like she was a lovely woman.
    And your advice is spot on, something I’ve been doing for the last year or so with my Dad as he gets older.

    1. Bob:
      You have been an incredible son. Your father must be so grateful (and feel so loved). Of my 16 aunts and uncles, I have one aunt still living. I WILL phone her this week.

  8. I’m sorry for your (and your family’s) loss. I love that picture of Florence coming out of the subway. That’s a great shot — so atmospheric! So New York! All we can hope when we die is that we’ve left pleasant memories behind, and it sounds like she did that for you.

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