Aunt Rivie was only 21 days away from her 100th birthday. Almost there. With her death the end of an era for our family comes about. She was the last link to my parents and to my grandparents. I miss her already, just knowing that I can never go over our history with her again.
My beautiful Aunt Rivie is part of my earliest childhood memories. When I was a little girl everyone lived together in my parent’s house. On the ground floor were my parents and my sister Hindy and me. On the second floor were my paternal grandparents and Uncle Labie and Aunt Rivie. Aunt Rivie got married when I was five years old and I still remember her wedding. I was the flower girl. Uncle Harry now moved in with us upon their marriage. I would go upstairs to visit with my aunt and my new uncle. When they had my cousin Josh, I was so excited. I was seven years old.
Aunt Rivie was very beautiful and soft spoken. She was an artist and I still have the picture she drew of me when I was a little girl. She loved me and Hindy as if we were her own children. Before I moved to Israel almost three years ago, I would visit her every Friday. I don’t know who looked forward to those visits more, me or Aunt Rivie. I would ask her about her childhood and her stories were about my grandparents and my great grandparents. She was a wonderful storyteller. And that is how I learned so many parts of my history. Our visits always ended with ice cream, a favorite of both of ours.
When my father started his printing business, Aunt Rivie and Uncle Harry were with him all the way. And they did whatever was needed. In those years, they all worked late into the night. When The Jewish Press came into existence she drew the editorial cartoon every week. My father loved and appreciated her. He would tell me, he knew he could count on his baby sister if he needed anything extra.
After a few years, when Josh was about six or seven, Aunt Rivie and Uncle Harry bought a house and took my grandparents to live with them. Aunt Rivie took care of her parents until they died many years later.
Aunt Rivie only had the one son, my cousin Josh, who I have always considered my younger brother. Josh’s three children were the great nachas of my aunt’s life. And their children were complete joy for her. Every week when I went to visit her, in her kitchen instead of wallpaper she had the children’s pictures taking up every space. And she knew who each one was.
I called her on the phone from Israel but it wasn’t the same. I could hardly hear her and she couldn’t stay on the phone very long. When I was in during the summer, I visited her and she was so happy to see me. I was happier. I didn’t realized that I would never see her again.
I’m crying for you, Aunt Rivie. I know you lived a full life, and now you are reunited with your beloved husband, Uncle Harry. But for me, you were all my birth family – aunts and uncles – wrapped into one.
I loved you very much. Rest in peace dear aunt, your job on earth is done and you have earned a special place in Gan Eden.