Happy Hundredth, Francika!

Aunt Fran in the Sanitarium with Tuberculosis.

Aunt Fran on the left with my mother.

Aunt Fran with Laurie Geiger Paetsch, her great niece.

From right to left: my sister Carol, Uncle Herman Winick, Aunt Fran, me, and Chico the chihuahua.

Aunt Fran in 2007 when we visited her in Escondido where she had been living for years.

Turning 100 is no small feat and for this lady, who has lived in California for many decades after leaving Cleveland, Ohio with her husband, Herman Winick, that is today, September 10, 2023.

I spoke to her a few minutes ago, my first conversation with her in years. Suffice it to say that despite dementia being a terrible, terrible thing; in this instance it is a blessed thing. I have been communicating via holiday and birthday cards with her for years as for whatever reason, she and I did not always see eye to eye.

She was always my favorite aunt, hands down, until I got married. At that point, when she came to our wedding in Wilmette, Illinois, and was verbally condescending and abusive with my mom, I called her out on that in a letter. Suffice it to say, I might not do it again. I have a tendency to be very direct in those situations and well, she did not take it well. After a few years, I mended that fence but then just a few short years ago, it came back to roost in a new form. It made me sad, but I made the decision that since it was neither fruitful or healthy for me or her, that I would refrain from phone contact.

My sister has always been in touch with her and I thus got info about her situation from her.

Mary Kay and I did visit her in 2007 and we did it by surprise. I was afraid to warn her as I felt she would not want me to visit. We therefore pulled up to her double wide and knocked on her door. We were at a family vacation in a VRBO in San Diego and so the drive to Escondido was a no brainer. She pretty much almost shut the door after opening it, but relented, let us in, and offered us some water.

Today, with info from my sister and the fact that she is in Memory Care in a San Diego suburban situation, I called her and due to the early hour got a hold of her.

My aunt was married three times, first to Tom Roberts, then to Herman Winick (with whom she departed Cleveland, Ohio for California), and finally Joe Gerbasi, who has been gone for a few years. Joe’s son is kindly taking care of my aunt’s situation since there were no children.

When she came on the phone, I was so surprised to hear that her voice was completely different from what I remembered so I quizzed her a bit. She was shocked about the fact that it is her hundredth birthday and kept saying she was 98. I asked her about Hungarian, her first language, and she said something in Hungarian. She was amazed at my memory as I talked of her siblings and parents, of Cleveland, and of her life.

I am thankful, even if she does have dementia, that I called her. I feel as if there is closure to the very silly situation of our less than perfect relationship. I am thankful that she is in a good location and being taken care of. She told me the food is great but that she is going home tomorrow (wishful thinking). She said everyone is nice and there are nice activities. I guess I called at a good time as my sister had said that sometimes she was angry Francika (my grandfather and grandmother called her this. Frances Ethel Bori (maiden name) Roberts Winick Gerbasi is 100. God bless her.

About Richard Koerner

Seventy something, father, papi, educator, organizer, Francophile, traveler, amateur photographer, gardener, cyclist, kayaker, calligrapher, cinephile, reader, and overall renaissance type human being.
This entry was posted in Actual thoughts in my daily life, Family, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.