In Praise of Spinster Aunts

Hi Darling Ones,

My Aunt Tete died on June 16th — nine months to the day that her younger brother, my dad, died.

Even though Sister #2 was briefly here last week for the funeral, I did not attend. I’m not ready to display my stroke-addled carcass to the world.

Sister #2 talked about how weird it was to be in that space with so many people missing. Of the 10 siblings in my dad’s family, only two remain.

I’m sad I didn’t get to attend the funeral and mourn my aunt with my cousins, her many nieces and nephews.

While she probably didn’t call herself a spinster, Aunt Tete was the OG spinster aunt in my life. She forged the path I followed, though it took her death for me to recognize it.

Aunt Tete was fiercely independent, living on her own until she entered hospice the week she died. She was quite fond of saying, “I do what I want.” And this line from her obituary can be copied and pasted into mine,“Terese’s legacy of speaking her mind will continue to inspire us to be true to ourselves and to stand up for what we believe in, just as she did throughout her life.”

Though she never had children of her own, Aunt Tete helped raise a bunch of her niblings. She did, in fact, raise my cousin Christopher when his mom was unable to. She was a grandma to Chris’ kids.

My Aunt Tete was liberal as hell, which seems at odds with her devout Catholicism. It’s not. She was the kind of Christian who actually read the bible. As her priest said at her funeral, she lived a life of faith and generosity.

And, as my sister said, that’s a hell of a legacy to leave behind.


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