Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Auntie Helen

I want to tell you about Helen Wilkoszewski. She was my aunt and she died last month. She was 92.

Everyone called her Auntie Helen. All my friends did, for sure. In fact, I doubt they even knew her last name. But they did know her clever wit and her no-nonsense advice.

Auntie Helen had a way of throwing you a zinger when you weren’t expecting it. Like the time she told me she was happy that she married my uncle and that she didn’t marry her old boyfriend Chester.

“I heard he was horny,” she said.

Auntie Helen liked to cook, garden, and give people a hard time. But she walked the walk. Her house was immaculate, her makeup was always in place, and we won’t even get started on her rose garden. Beautiful.

For the record, she was the youngest child of Polish immigrants. She was bilingual in both the spoken and written word. She worked in a Detroit factory during WWII building planes. And she was my Godmother. She didn’t have any kids or grandkids of her own, but she was my grandmother (the only one I ever knew, at least.)

I’m going to try to write more about her after some time has passed. It still hurts right now. But I have some great stories to share. Like how she would call my good friend from college “the little Jewish boy” – even after I reminded her that he’s almost 40, the father of three, and COO of his own company.

“Yes. That little Jewish boy always was a good Joe,” was her response.

To my friends who knew her, if you have any memories of her, please feel free to share them.