Yesterday was my great aunt Helen’s 90th birthday! She’s my grandmother’s sister. They had been living together for as long as I can remember in my grandmother’s apartment in Coney Island. My favorite memory of my aunt was when she would be eating dinner with my grandma, my sister and I and she’d sing “I love you, a bushel and a peck” and my sister and I would smile and laugh because what on Earth is a peck?
Of the two of them, I’ve always thought of my grandmother as the eccentric one. For example, one time she was meeting her proper, easily embarrassed, southern belle daughter-in-law in Manhattan and showed up in a leather vest and a giant leopard print pimp hat. She also one time drowned my sister’s baby blanket in a blow up pool, that kind of crazy.
Recently, both of these awesome ladies have had some medical issues and now my aunt lives in a nursing home. Now you would think that since she was used to living with my grandmother, she would be okay sharing a room. Wrong. We got a call saying that she would be moving into a private room because her roommate was stealing from her. When we talked to Aunt Helen, she told us that she was tired of her roommate talking to her so she lied to get rid of her.
She really brought on the crazy about a year later when we found out she had converted to Jehovah’s Witness. We are a mostly non-practicing Jewish family, and she had never been particularly religious. The only time I remember her doing anything religious was attending my Bat Mitzvah and I’m pretty sure she only came for the reception part and not the temple part. The next time we came to visit, we asked her about the conversion. She responded with, “I’m tired of getting my blood taken everyday, so now they can’t… because it’s against my religion.”