I've spent alot of time over the last day thinking about both Aunt Pearl and Uncle Lou and remembering my childhood. These two sweet people were a major part of my life. Always.
I grew up in New Jersey, right across the street from my Grammie and Pop-pop. Aunt Pearl and Uncle Lou lived about 20 minutes away. We spent all our holidays and special ocassions with them. We rotated holiday dinners - so we'd do Easter at our house, Thanksgiving at Grammie's and then Christmas at Aunt Pearl's. Then the next year, we'd change it up. But we always spent this time together. And I loved it.
If dinner was at 2, we'd get there around 12:30 or 1 and we would stay until 5 or 6. There was always good conversation, great food and general comfort. There is nothing better than being around people who love you unconditionally, just the way you are . That is how it was with these guys.
And of course, there was always Aunt Pearl's chocolate chip cookies. I don't know what she did, what her secret was, but they were the best. These cookies were so good that they always served as birthday presents too! She would deliver a tin of cookies to each of our on our birthdays and I could eat 100 of them.
She had a dry wit and just like my Pop-pop, did not mince words. She said what she thought. And her laugh, Aunt Pearl had the best laugh. I loved her, I respected her and I completely enjoyed her company.
I remember several very specific times at Aunt Pearl and Uncle Lou's. The house they lived in most of my life smelled a certain way and if I think hard now, I can almost smell it. I remember sitting in their yard, under a tree on a hot day. I remember walking through their back yard into the orchard that was behind them and going to the park next door to play basketball. I remember our cousins Joey and Richie and their German Shepherd Tuna.
I can still see their dining room where we ate and their living room where we went after dinner to talk for hours. Aunt Pearl's dinner table on Easter of 1986 was where and when I realized that I was losing my hair, the beginning of the most difficult time of my life.
At some point, they moved into an apartment a little closer to where we lived. There was one Thanksgiving in particular that comes to mind. In high school, I worked at a bakery and Thanksgiving was our busiest day. I was up early that day and worked until noon. Then we went to Aunt Pearl's. I was so exhausted that I went into their bedroom and slept for hours. Then I remember sitting around their kitchen table, eating and talking and laughing. Always laughing.
I left for college and only saw Aunt Pearl and Uncle Lou a couple times a year. Then, I moved out of state permanently and saw them even less. The years went by and before you know it, I was an adult. Uncle Lou passed away in 1999. I was living in New Jersey at the time and was able to attend his funeral. He was such an amazingly good man, so humble and unassuming. He just went about his business and made a difference in the lives of so many people. I learned so much about Uncle Lou that day that I had never known. He did an usual amount of charity work and he never talked about that with us. He just did it.
Several years ago, I was back in New Jersey with Trevor and we stopped to visit Aunt Pearl. She was getting up there in years and when she came to the door - she didn't recognize me, but she did recognize Trevor from a picture my mom had just sent her! We went in and spent a couple hours visiting with her. That was the last time I saw Aunt Pearl. She sent a nice card when Trevor and I got married, but my communication with her was limited to that.
I think of Aunt Pearl and Uncle Lou during the holidays. We spend holidays with Trevor's family and they don't do big dinners for everything like we always did and I sure do miss that.
My Pop-pop, Aunt Pearl's brother, passed away in 1997. Missing Aunt Pearl makes me miss Pop-pop even more. Their generation was something special. Their attitude about things was so different that ours. Struggle, tough times, didn't phase them. I remember them being so non-chalant about things. I loved to hear their stories about their childhoods, the war, the way things used to be. I could listen to them talk for hours.
I loved those days and I really do miss them. Time moves on and life changes, but my memories are as strong as ever. I always knew that I was fortunate to have such a great a family. I was fortunate to be loved by such exceptional people. I am who I am today because of them. I learned a lot by being around them, watching and listening.
Thinking of Aunt Pearl, I feel a strong urge to laugh at everyday things and to bake some chocolate chip cookies. I know that Aunt Pearl, Uncle Lou and Pop-pop are in heaven, along with Sis and Charlie saying "what the hell do we do now?". Now, they wait...just like us...until we are all together again.
Rest in peace Aunt Pearl. Your life was well lived.