Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Queen Fanny

This poem (below) is a little bit greeting-cardy, but as soon as I read it, I knew that today I was going to write about Aunt Fanny.

Everybody Jewish has an Aunt Fanny. If by some chance you are born without one, they assign one to you. Boy, did I hit the jackpot: I had a spectacular Aunt Fanny.

My Aunt Fanny, my maternal grandmother's sister, had a very regal bearing. She should have been a foot taller, and been a model or a movie star. She should have been born to a rich family, and been able to indulge her love of fashion and style and luxury. But she wasn't. She was a teeny, tiny little middle class lady who carried herself like a queen. (We short girls learn very early the secret of good posture: you're instantly an inch taller and ten pounds thinner.) She married a teeny, tiny man, Harry, and they loved each other dearly, but she had a somewhat difficult life, raising three children, taking care of her in-laws, and then losing some of those closest to her.

She was gracious and attentive and all her life, men of all ages lined up to do her bidding. Aunt Fanny had perfected the art of platonic flirting. She was always immaculately dressed, made-up and coiffed, usually in a classic French twist. But what I remember most clearly was her rare talent for making me feel so smart, so important. Kids know that most adults tune them out, at least until they are caught doing something they shouldn't be doing. It's rare enough to be with an adult who truly pays attention to everything you say. But an adult who thinks you're terribly wise, and clever, and insightful ...it's almost unheard of, but that was Aunt Fanny's gift.

As further proof, I offer the fact that I went to visit her on my own as a teenager. Yes, it's true: this surly, emotional, insecure teenager voluntarily took a Greyhound bus to Cincinnati to visit my Aunt Fanny. And she made me feel like every word I said, everything I did, was important.

You know, it's not a parent's job to adore you. Their job is to turn you into a civilized adult who other adults can stand to be around; almost the opposite of adoring you. (If you've ever met someone who was completely adored and indulged by their parents, you know what kind of repulsive creature is likely to result.)

In a perfect world, every kid should have at least one adult in their life who really listens to them, who really makes them feel as if they matter. For a teeny, tiny little lady, Aunt Fanny sure set the bar high.

3 comments:

Mary B said...

Boy did you get her to a "T". And it was lovely to see her shining, beautiful, square Simkin face on my computer (did she ever think this would be possible?) Thanks for giving her the tribute she deserved.

The Fazzah said...

Unbelievable! I too had an Aunt Fanny that had all of the lovely qualities that you describe.

Weirder yet, from the photo, she could be a dead ringer for my Aunt Fanny and her husband Harry.

Well, maybe not so strange. I am M.O.T. after all.

Michelle said...

a teenager choosing to go visit a family member? that's definitely a sign of the ultimate aunt!