We lost Aunt Rose Boccuto last week. Many of us have one of those aunts or uncles in the family like Rosie. The one who never married, never had kids, never quite fit in. Eccentric, not quite normal, a bit odd. Perhaps cursed with misfortune. That was our Aunt Rosie, my mother’s oldest sister. She possessed an unforgettable, unique personality.
When we were young, Aunt Rosie was our unofficial babysitter during those long summer days when we would hang around in my Aunt Annamarie’s house, watching game shows and drinking Tab. We were smart alec adolescents and sometimes we teased Rosie and tried to get a rise out of her. One thing she hated was when we sat on the sofa which was covered in a thick sheet of plastic slipcovers. Apparently, she had paid for the slipcovers and wanted to preserve them. We’d wait until she could see us and then plop on the sofa, to her great consternation.
Aunt Rosie was ahead of her time in some ways, a full fledged vegetarian who never met a bowl of pasta she didn’t like. She was a fixture on South Marvine Street-willing to run errands for neighbors, always down with the latest gossip, and full of laughter and delight when she was introduced to a new baby on the block.
Rosie was a mystery too. She studied the Daily News religiously, kept up on current events and was much more intelligent than we ever really gave her credit. Even as a child I wondered what was going on in her mind. There always seemed to be something there—but what exactly, was hard to say. She'd burst into laughter at inappropriate times, or just stare into the distance with her big brown eyes.
I must admit that sometimes I got jealous when Aunt Rosie showered cousin Theresa with gifts of baby dolls, candy and clothes. Theresa was obviously her favorite and I can say now without a doubt that the two of them are now in heaven enjoying a bowl of gnocchi with tomato sauce followed by a butter pecan ice cream.
Here’s another thing about Rosie—she told it like it was. How many times did she surprise us with a comment or remark that we were all thinking but wouldn’t dare say. Not Rosie. She pulled no punches.
My commentary about Rosie would not be complete without expressing my gratitude to my cousin Denise for all of the work and care she so lovingly provided. Denise was there as Rosie got older and slower and needed a helping hand.
I don’t know if I’ll ever totally understand Rosie, but I realize that’s not too important today. She was essentially a child of God---innocent, imperfect, and one who called upon us to be patient, human, and compassionate. She was part of our family—and we were a part of hers. She did her best with what she had been given—and what had been taken away.
She leaves us today and enters a new realm—where she is finally free of the physical maladies that plagued her. Where her mind is released and at her soul is at peace.
We say good bye to Aunt Rosie and we want you to know, we will never forget your smile. We hope you pray for us now that you are in God’s embrace.