Remembering Cousin Audrey
Everyone’s family has its own dynamic and through the generations that changes. One thing I always loved about Barry Levinson’s Avalon was how well it captured the period when the extended family began to split apart, like so many electrons being flung away, leaving just the nuclear family.
Growing up, my mother’s side of the family got together for most major holidays. I fondly remember Thanksgiving gatherings at my Aunt Honey’s apartment and Passover Seder at Aunt Ruth’s. But the grandest time of all was Christmas at Uncle Sam and Aunt Flo’s. They lived in a three-floor home in Brooklyn and we ate copious amounts of food and in ascending age order, all took our place in the center of the room, as we opened our gifts.
When Aunt Flo died, Sam continued until his daughter Audrey came of age, married, and set up a home in Rockland County, NY. The extended family all made the annual schlep every December as Audrey had even more food and kept the family traditions going. In time, though, people moved and the trip became more of hassle and the gathering withered until one year, it ended.
Audrey was the nucleus of the Bloom family and at 2:30 this morning she passed away from complications caused by her 25 year battle with various forms of cancer.
Family was everything to Audrey. She made regular calls to distant cousins, names that meant little to the rest of us, and was equally involved with her father’s and mother’s families. Her heart was huge and all were welcome. She doted on the younger nieces and nephews and cousins, especially the girls, wanting to take them shopping or to the ballet.
That my generation of cousins remains in semi-regular contact at all is entirely due to our shared memories of those family gatherings and Audrey is a large part of that.
Audrey delighted in what we had to say and what we were all doing. Her calls came at random times and without intent, just to say hello and keep up. When we had our own family health issues, she offered us her extensive contacts within the New York and Houston medical communities if they would do any good. She knew which were the best hospitals and what were the ideal treatments – she probably could have had a degree.
Despite the ongoing battles with cancer, Audrey didn’t let that stop her but instead was active within her temple and served on the local Board of Education. She used her knowledge from working as a corporate travel agent to see the world and wouldn’t let physical infirmities stop her. Even as the cancer spread and getting around grew harder, she still had tickets for a Bat Mitzvah in Indiana later this month and for a cruise in September.
I honestly don’t know who will or can replace her as the glue that holds the far-flung Blooms together. She was larger than life and will be terribly missed.