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My Great Aunt and Her Great Affections

I am washed over with the calming smell of tomato and garlic, as it fights my uneasy sense of bad news. But, being in the hot embrace of my great Aunt Annabelle still does not ease my nerves. Annabelle’s hugs radiate so much affection, that most people are uncomfortable to display. Evidently, causing an awkward moment for me, as I am one of those people who tries very hard to hide any affiliations you might have with someone. After my engulfing whirlpool of arms I get from the rest of the party, we take our seats. Our table is placed in the middle of the highway zone, where people enter and exit the restaurant. So, I focus on the appearances and conversations of the bystanders by our table, trying to hide my show-and-tell face. But, finally my silence is recognized, and I have to participate in the next conversation, but of course it’s about Brendan and my B’nai Mitzvah. We start with the simple sub-topics; clothing, location, songs, Hebrew school, part in the torah, and finally the invite list.

The nagging mother in all of our brains finally nags my dad to death, and he asks the long awaited question. “Are you guys going to be able to make-it?” Our family’s eyes are harmonized in the blank stare at Auntybelle, her nickname, as we wait for a reply. Auntybelle consumes a breathe of courage, and flexes her hand muscles on top of Lester’s hand as she begins.

“We will be unable to make it,” Auntybelle says, pausing for another breath of courage as her eyes gleam with trust, and determination. “Lester has an open heart surgery scheduled around that time, which will cause him to be in rehab for a lot of time.” Her dirty sea eyes change back to their usual clean drinking water as she finishes with the unpopular part of her news statement. “But you must send us a copy of the video,” she says cooling the heated discussion to a light, thin, stream of water, from the dangerous, violent, flooding tsunami.

We agree in a chorus of “yeses,” sealing the everlasting deal. With one last sparkle of stubbornness in Auntybelle’s eyes, the outer rim of Auntybelle’s mood ring eyes continue to fluctuate during the rest of our visit. But, I was unable to partake in our witty repartee of a chat, as my mind was still circling. Why was Lester having the surgery? How badly does he need the surgery? What kind of surgery is it? Is Lester going to survive? Should we stay with Auntybelle while he is in surgery? What will happen if he dies? My mind continues like the wheels of a bicycle, but even though my brain is speeding up. I still know better then to ask any of the questions. The rest of the group continues to talk about their oh-so-entertaining lives, but I just sit and watch the mood strip of Annabelle’s eyes. As the colors turn and turn the cycle of emotion, I am warmed with the smell of garlic and tomato.





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