I went to my great aunt Lily’s funeral yesterday.
(Before I go on, I digress to tell you that I found out she died by reading a forwarded email. I figured out who died three forwards down. When I called another relative to ask about it on Monday she said, “Oh yeah, she died on Saturday.” Um. Thanks for the update…)
Anyway, she was actually Ciocia Lily to me. That side of the family is Polish so it’s Ciocia for aunt, Nanny for grandma, Dziadzia for grandpa, etc.
The funeral mass was at the Polish church, St. Aldabert’s in Polish Port Richmond, Philadelphia, where I’ve been many times before for my cousin’s weddings. Visiting Port Richmond as a child meant pierogis, a visit to “old Nanny”, seeing my glamorous older cousins and sleeping in my Nanny’s row house from the early 1900’s with the scary cellar.
Going there always takes me right back into my childhood. Each of my “old” relatives are like a character out of a book. Ciocia Lily was the one with the hearty laugh, husky voice and the one who always had cats.
I’m sure you have your own cast of characters and no matter what your life is like today, when you go back there, you’re just a kid and the world goes back to the way it was when you were young. Today, I was Emmett’s little girl. I’m 46! But, it doesn’t matter to anyone there.
I realized today that I’m not too far from becoming an “old” relative.
I wonder what character I will be when my grandkids, great nieces and nephews and distant relatives remember me?
Rest in Peace Ciocia Lily.