Aunt Rose by Chris Zito

There were no day care centers when I was a toddler. My father’s younger sister Rose used to come to house every morning and stay with me while Mom worked as a chemist at Mercy Hospital downtown and Dad tried to convince anyone who happened into Sears that what they really needed was a brand new washer and dryer.
I loved Aunt Rose.

Rose Cannin passed away peacefully in her sleep last night. She was happily living in a nursing home in Johnstown, Pa. at the time. Then again, despite a sometimes difficult life, Aunt Rose seemed to live happily always. She was a tiny little Italian lady with a big, big, smile.
And when we were kids, she kept an even bigger paddle hanging in her kitchen.  She never used it on me. Once I laid eyes on the thing I made sure to never have it coming when we visited her house!

Aunt Rose’s paddle had no inscription, but those holes look awfully familiar!

Having Aunt Rose take over as Mom went to work wasn’t a big transition. They were both Sicilian, both too short to really drive safely, and both loved me so much I felt like the most important child ever born. When it came to that sort of treatment, there was a lot to go around in our house growing up.  We were lucky.
Hey, I’m not criticizing the daycare centers of today. Vince has spent plenty of time in them. I’m sure the many women who have looked after him have treated him warmly and lovingly. But they were never once conned into giving an extra cookie after lunch because none of them had that built-in soft spot in their heart for them that I remember Aunt Rose having for me.

My siblings and I will be attending the wake on Saturday. We want to show up for our cousins, Rose’s daughters. We want to pay our respects. We’ll be there for our Dad who lost his baby sister, Lucy, not long ago and now Rose. My dad is 86. He still drives in nice weather, lives on his own, and is still as funny as ever: “People tell me I look good for 86. I tell them, you should have seen me when I was 36! I looked fantastic!!!” He’s just about the best guy I know and I could show up and show up and show up for this guy many times and we still wouldn’t be square. So we go.

Love you, Aunt Rose. And miss you already.

This is my dad with most of his siblings not long after Dad came home from World War II. That’s Aunt Rose on the top step, still in high school probably. Dad is the devastatingly handsome one on the left.


5 Responses

  1. Thanks, honey. That was awfully nice.

  2. I, too, have tears running down my cheeks. That was so beautiful. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and so eloquently. I love you…Mici

  3. My deepest condolences Chris. Aunt Rose sounded like a wonderful lady.You were both lucky to have each other. Brushing away tears..

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