Last night, my godmother and beloved aunt died. Her life had many joys and many sorrows. She was a beautiful person with a generous soul. She always made people laugh with her quick wit. My birthday wasn’t complete until I got a phone call from her singing happy birthday to me. She always sent a card with money. Visiting her at her house in the city was an adventure to a younger me. She had an open-door policy, and indeed, even in the city, her door was unlocked and we often showed up unannounced but completely welcome. She always had cookies in an orange-shaped cookie jar on the table. She’d give us money to go to the corner candy store and requested her favorite Swedish fish. I have many fun, happy memories of her, and I feel sad for the tragedy and sadness in her life. I know for sure she was a city girl and loved the city she grew up in. When I was a young girl, I wrote a short story loosely based (and I mean that, it is highly fictionalized) on a trip to her house. The story, “Union City,” was published when I was 19 in David Kherdian’s ethnic American literature journal, Forkroads, with a picture of my aunt’s house. (I’ve since turned that short story into a larger novel called The Weight of Lost Souls. It’s very Italian; it’s very New Jersey; it’s very life. A central theme in the novel is how food serves such a large part of our comfort in life and how it symbolizes our feelings at certain times through certain experiences.) My godmother’s passing represents the end of an era in my family, and my heart is filled with sadness because she suffered so, especially during her later years. I’ll always remember the fun times we had with her.
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