Things That I Will Always Remember About my Aunt Dottie
1. Carrots. My aunt made the best buttered carrots ever. I hated vegetables when I was younger but aunt Dottie’s carrots always passed the test. My mom tried to remake them multiple times but it never was the same.
2. When I was younger, sometimes we would visit my aunt on Sundays in Flushing. We would always have a spaghetti and gravy dinner. Duh, we’re Italian. There would be fresh parmigiano reggiano cheese which she grated herself, in a beautiful porcelain dish. She would reprimand me for drinking too much soda. She was right.
3. Movies in her back bedroom. When we would visit I would always pop a video (usually Disney) in the VCR. Yeahhh, VCRs. The room would always be dark.
4. Looking at the porcelain statues and figures in my aunt’s china cabinet. Delicate women with long necks were showcased and I was fascinated.
5. Building structures out of legos on my aunt’s coffee table. My aunt and parent’s would be drinking coffee while the television was on and I would just sit on the floor, building block upon block.
6. I remember walking to the ice cream shop down the block after dinner.
7. One time, after spending time in the city with my family we stopped by Aunt Dottie’s at night. I told her everything about the day.
8.The countless times we spent Christmas Eve in Long Island City.
9. I learned to make my first paper airplane at my Aunt Dottie’s place. It didn’t fly well but I still felt accomplished.
10. The times I fell asleep on her couch in the back living room.
11. Sitting, watching, and making fun of the Bachelorette together with my mom.
12. Looking at old photos of her family. I loved hearing about life back when she was growing up.
13. Long talks at her kitchen table and how she would always ask about Dan and what was going on in my life.
14. Feeding the stray cats outside her window.
15. How selfless she was to help my mom, sister, and I move into our present home. I enjoyed having her company around then. Even funnier was when I let her sleep in my room. I forgot something upstairs and quietly tiptoed up so I wouldn’t wake her- and it reeked of cigarette smoke. Ohh, Aunt Dottie. Lighting up in my room haha.
16. The countless times she was on the phone with my mother. It takes a special person to listen and give advice to my mom in the state in which my family was in.
The truth is there are a ton of people who come in and out of your life but there are few in which you can say “wow, you are really an amazing person.” Those people, who in the most subtle ways, leave a fingerprint in your heart. I loved the way my aunt carried herself, how she took pride in taking care of herself, how she was genuine and old school in some ways, how everyone would go to her and even though she never had kids, she was a mother, grandmother, and counselor to everyone. She would do things in secret and never flaunt it. In her own words she would always tell my mom and I not to worry about the future. It was important to take care of the little things, like ritually feeding cats outside her kitchen window. How she would pay attention to detail and how everything had a place. That was my great aunt Dottie.
When I think of her I smile because I can picture this: her sitting at the kitchen table with her apron still on, arm parched up on the flat surface, fingers straddling a cigarette. As the fog stemmed out from the fiery stick, I would say something funny. It may not have been humorous at all but she still would give a slight pause, dish a smile and then a short laugh.
I have spent a lot of my life surrounded by the religious, some who have left my memory with little impact. It has been my aunt Dottie who truly showed me how to convey God’s love, selflessness, and even forgiveness. When she left this world, I noticed, people noticed and we felt it. That is a life that speaks volumes.