Jul 21st, 2008

End of the Line

I am not the seventh son of a seventh son, but I am the only daughter of an only daughter of an only daughter. My maternal great grandmother was married twice. Her first husband was named Rub. That was his last name. Nobody ever knew or remembered his first name. They had a single daughter. Her name was Lillian. Lillian had only one child, a daughter. Her daughter was born on May 11, 1918. Lillian died in the Great Flu Pandemic of 1918, on December 7. Her daughter was only 7 months old. With her second husband, my maternal great grandmother had more children: Ann, Marilyn, Harry and Aaron.

Ann and Marilyn were my mother’s half-aunts, but they were closer in age to being her sisters. Aunt Ann took my mother to see Cab Calloway up in Harlem in the 30s. Aunt Ann took my brother to Coney Island in the 60s. Aunt Ann is long gone.

Aunt Marilyn was, in a word, formidable. She was a milliner who became a multi-millionaire selling hair ribbons and silk flowers. She was a self-made business woman, sharp as a tack. She had advice for everyone, whether you wanted it or needed it. She was a force of nature, and one to be reckoned with. She was also only about 5 feet tall. But her personality ran much, much larger. I guess the women in my family are all a little out-sized, personality-wise. When Marilyn was in her mid-80s, she decided she didn’t want to wear glasses, so went in for Lasik surgery. She was not a good candidate. Nevertheless, she not only had the surgery, she had outstanding results. I told my cousin that it was because nobody, not even G-d or a machine, would dare to do less than what Marilyn demanded.

That being said, Marilyn left this world yesterday morning, one month shy of her 101 birthday. She had a long life, and an amazing one. There are not many people like my Aunt Marilyn left in this world. I mourn her passing, and rejoice at having had her in my life. She was not easy, my Aunt Marilyn. I acknowledge that she was dictatorial and demanding and difficult. But she was the last tie to the mysterious and lost woman for whom I am named. With Marilyn gone, there is no one left of that generation. It is the end of our line.