Updated: Aug 2, 2021
“ During the summer, I would hop on my yellow Huffy and take my new 45’s over to play for her as she loved music as much as I did. "
My father’s sister, Gigi, had a plus-size figure and a big personality. She wore her long hair up in a bun, black rhinestone covered cat-eyed glasses and dark capes and she chain smoked Pall Malls. She and her husband, Frank, who loved to watch Hee Haw and never said much to any of us, lived with and cared for my grandmother a few blocks away from where I lived. Their house always smelled of simmering gravy and apple pie, and there was a steady stream of people in and out their front door, socializing, gossiping or just wanting her attention. She was strong willed and opinionated and I craved her approval and firm embrace. During the summer, I would hop on my yellow Huffy and take my new 45’s over to play for her as she loved music as much as I did. One day I propped my bike against her front stairs, opened the porch screen door and stepped into her living room, just past the closet where she kept stacks of games for us. She came out from the kitchen, an apron covering her black dress and big jewelry. I handed her the record and she opened the oak cabinet and placed it down on the turntable. As it played, she walked back and forth around the kitchen, cooking and listening. When it finished, she came out and put her arm around me, squeezing me, and in her raspy deep voice she said “I don’t care for that one but I’m glad that you like it.” And she replaced it with one she knew we both liked, Mama Cass singing “Dream a little dream.” We stood there together and listened to the whole song, and she never took her arm from around me. Gigi was the only person in my family who could actually see me, who I felt connected to, and who could tell me the truth, with no trace of sarcasm or judgment. And I loved her for it. And I miss her. And I always will.