Today was my Aunt Essie’s 90th birthday. Esther. My mother’s little sister.
She has been there always. When my mother became pregnant with me she had to have total bed rest. But my parents were in the midst of building a new house, there was no way she could be in bed at a construction site. So she moved in with her sister and family for the duration. There I was born. When I was four weeks old our house was ready and we moved a state away. Then when I was two years old we moved the whole length of the country away.
For birthdays, while all the other relatives sent boxes of gifts, and later cash, Aunt Essie and Uncle Gene would send a letter telling me how much they love me. And as much as I enjoyed all the presents, I waited the most for that letter of love.
Family milestones – bar/bat mitzvahs, weddings, funerals. An occasional visit for no reason. These are the times I see Essie.
Then when my mother was in the hospital for that last time, Essie flew across the country to be with me. All the decisions were mine, but she gave advice when asked, and support throughout. When it was clear that nothing more could be done, Essie and I went out to a restaurant, had a bottle of wine, and toasted my mom/her sister.
And today she is 90! We called to say happy birthday. She is celebrating with friends and with family over the next week, there are parties and dinners and concerts and theatre – mostly, she laughed, there is a lot of eating. She sounded strong, and happy, and told me she’s aiming for 120.
May G-d bless her and watch over her.