Posted by: thiscait | July 13, 2005*

My Great Aunt Bea died last night. She was 89.

When I was little, we spent every New Year’s Eve together. We would take all of the cushions off her couch and make a fort. I’d spread a blue blanket on the floor for the pool and we’d go swimming. Sometimes we’d go to a movie. Always we’d go to Old Country Buffet, Eat ‘n Park, or some other fine dining establishment near her apartment. And of course we welcomed in each year with Dick Clark and a New Year’s Pretzel for good luck.

Whenever I came to Pittsburgh, she would buy me apricot nectar. I never knew how or why she decided that was what I liked, but without fail it would appear. She also brought donut holes to my grandmother’s house—a sinful delight for a child raised on natural foods.

She wore a wig for as long as I knew her. She had plenty of hair underneath—she just didn’t like it for some reason. We were always sort of puzzled and entertained by that, but it was part of who she was. When we saw her in the hospital a week and a half ago, she was not wearing the wig.** She had almost no gray hair.

She came to Detroit when I graduated from high school. Probably rode all day on a Greyhound to do so. Didn’t faze her. She enjoyed chatting with the people in the seats near her.

She came to DC when Jen and I got married. She hopped out of the back seat of my mother’s car ready to go—and helped us assemble fans, plastic champagne glasses, and anything else we would let her get her hands on, but she did insist that she and the other family “workers” were entitled to 15 minute breaks, union rules! When we ran out of tasks to assign, she harassed us for not working her hard enough. She was ready to storm the White House to give Dubya a piece of her mind about the wedding not being legal. Instead, she entertained us all by doing the Jitterbug with one of my karate instructors.

Bea dancing Bea at our wedding
Her birthday was February 29, so we always teased her about being four times as young as she really was. And really, it made sense. She was the youngest 22-year-old I’d ever met. I said to Jen tonight, “You know, I sort of never thought she’d die. It’s so out of character for her.”

If it’s possible, I now wish even more that Coqui had been born in April as planned. I wanted her to meet our child, and wanted our child to meet her.

We love you, Bea. We miss you already.

*A few years ago Bea said, “Dot com this, dot com that. EVERYTHING’s dot com now. I’m going to sign my Christmas cards this year!”
**Jen was astonished to discover it was a wig – it looked so right, so much like her.



  1. Cait and Jen, I’m so sorry. My grandma died a few months before R was born and I so wanted her to have met my baby. But I know she’s seeing us from wherever she is, as Bea is seeing you.

  2. Cait and Jen, I am so sorry. It is so sad to see such a vital and spirited person pass away. My thoughts are with you.

  3. Such wonderful memories.

    My mom always kept a photo of our great grandmother in our home and brought us up, knowing her. She died when we were too little to remember her. However, we know her, and wonderful stories about her and the neat things she did. Mom always kept grandma koots memory alive, and in turn, MY children know her. Mom still tells them the great stories that she told us. Even though we never actually knew her…….. we know her.

    Maybe you could do that when your family expands……

  4. I am sorry for your loss. She sounds like she was quite a wonderful person.

  5. So sorry to hear this! She sounds like such a cool person – here’s hoping your baby (someday!!!) will embody much of what she taught you and how she lived! 🙂

  6. Oh, I’m so, so sorry. It’s obvious how important she was to you and how much love she gave.

    It’s really good that you went there the other weekend and I’m glad I got to see all the pictures.

    I used to spend every New Year’s Eve with my grandma and Dick Clark, too.

    Holding you and your family in the light…

  7. I’m so sorry, I know this is a huge loss for you both.

  8. My thoughts are with you.

  9. Beautiful tribute, you made me wish very much that I’d had a chance to meet her.


  10. She sounds like such a cool lady. You’re in our thoughts.

  11. I’m so sorry. it just sucks.

    LOTS of hhugs to you.

  12. I am so sorry. She sounds like someone I would have loved to meet – and I am very picky. So sad when people die on us but she seems to have had a wonderful, full life. I hope that affords you some comfort.


  13. What a great tribute to your Aunt… it gave me shivers!! Sorry for your loss 😦

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