September 02, 2007

The Godmother

Last Tuesday our family's Godmother (otherwise known as my mom's aunt Reyna) had a stroke. Early Wednesday the morning, finally crying since she first heard at midnight, my mom called to tell me. To sweeten the blow, she ended, "I'd like to think that my sister is exaggerating, because she tends to exaggerate. She says things with Tia seem pretty bad."

She was not exaggerating. Tia is still in a comma, suffering from even more complications since.

Doctors say there's no hope.

Every family has a pillar. Someone whose influence is so strong, whose presence is so important, that others define the family in relation to that person. I am known as Reyna's grand-niece.

I am also Zeide Nune, Tia's father, great-grandaughter. We used to call him The Godfather (no mafia connection here, but his charm and influence over the family would rival the Corleones.) Tia inherited Zeide's sense of strategy and influence, but she used it in a different way. She was the silent Godmother, always pulling strings and making things smoother for all of us behind the scenes, no glory there

And when Zeide passed away 11 years ago, she became the sole Godmother.

She was a womanly Godmother, a fairy Godmother. Caring for Tio Mike and for our 93-year-old Bobe Malka. Orchestrating all the seders and rosh hashana dinners and family events for the family in California, and never missing one elsewhere (weddings in Guatemala, Bar Mitzvahs in Mexico, her grandson's school ceremony in San Francisco, and had she not collapsed last week, Eitan's wedding in Boston tomorrow). (And before my time, building the shop with Tio, growing the business, making deliveries for him. Plus raising two kids)

Tia was always running the show, making plans, volunteering, calling friends, giving and giving. Even driving me to a business meeting 50 miles away in rush-hour traffic when I was in LA for a quick business trip ("But Tia, my company pays for cabs!" nonwithstanding.)

This pillar is now fading. What will we do without her? Did we ever tell her how important she was for all of us.

And will my kids ever understand the concept of Tia Godmother?

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