Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Aunt Gloria - Everyone Should Have One

This is my Aunt Gloria, actually, my favorite Aunt Gloria. Everybody should have one. They play a special role in your life, sometimes without even knowing it! This picture was taken, and this is a guess, on the steps to the brownstone in Manhattan, on the Upper West Side, where the family moved from Brooklyn after my Grandfather passed away. Gloria was only about 4, or 5 at the time, so she must be about 8 years old in this photo. I could be wrong though, and this may have been taken at Aunt Katy's in Park Slope, Brooklyn. She'll let me know. She looks a bit like Judy Garland here, with her nose kind of scrunched up, looking at the camera. Even at that young age you could see the joy inside of her. That inner joy was what made her special to me when I was growing up.

One of my favorite memories of Aunt Gloria involves her sneaking my brother and I into the hospital to see our Mom when she was sick. Back in those days children were not allowed to visit their parents in the hospital. My mother didn't like this rule, and so Aunt Gloria decided to do something about it.

Sneaking into the hospital stairway was easy enough, the hard part always came when we had to exit the stairwell, and then make our way down the hall to my Mom's room. Gloria would usually have my Aunt Gladys with her, so Gladys would go to the nurse's station and distract the head nurse, waving us on behind her back when the time was right. We would then go single file, with Gloria blocking the rear so we wouldn't be seen by the nurse, down the hallway to my Mom's room. They weren't private rooms, so the visits never lasted that long before we were "discovered", and then ejected, by the hospital staff. But those few minutes meant the world to my Mom, and Aunt Gloria knew it.

While re-reading "A Tree Grows In Brooklyn" recently, for about the hundrenth time, I was struck by the similarity between those real life visits to my Mom, and the part of the book where Johnny enrolls Francie in a school out of their neighborhood. They both know that it's wrong - but it's done to right a greater wrong. And, in some cases, the ends do justify the means.

Anyway, this is just a very public rambling about my favorite Aunt Gloria. Today is her birthday. She's younger than me, in heart, and spirit. She and her husband, my Uncle Bob, aka the "Fork and Spoon", reside in Florida and sometimes in New York. They can also be found at all points in between. Happy Birthday, Gloria, from your favorite nephew!

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