Man, one minute it’s September and you think you’re going to be burning up the keyboard with blog posts…and the next, it’s almost January and you’re left scratching your head at the breakneck speed of time from September through December 25th. It’s been a hell of a quarter.
I took my first college class since the 1980’s and got my first F. (Not my final grade, thank God!) Live long enough and you experience everything. I got to help celebrate my Uncle Richard’s 90th birthday, helped my daughter move to Seattle and said “Be seeing you,” which felt much more permanent than her college move ever did.
Then on November 2, 2019, I got the sad news that my Aunt Blanche Tunno had passed away. How do you say goodbye to one of your very favorite aunts, and your last living connection to your mom?
Aunt Blanche was my mom’s little sister and my God-mother. She was a tough, little, Italian Annie Oakley who prided herself on being able to shoot passers-by in the cuolo, with her BB gun when she was a kid. She wore jeans way before Elvis and played “Down on the Levee,” on the guitar for me when I was little.
She saved me and my cousin Nancy from drowning in Lake Erie once, and showed me that cooking with love, apparently meant slamming a chicken down on the counter quite a few times before final preparations. And her pie crusts were flaky heaven.
She loved the National Enquirer and could tell you her version of the whole Royals story, beginning to end, with a flourish only Aunt Blanche could muster.
But fairy tales were her forte. Once you heard Aunt Blanche read a fairy tale, you never quite forgot it. Her version of The Three Little Pigs went something like this:
Aunt Blanche: So the three little pigs all built houses. The first little pig was a dumbass and built his house out of straw. The big bad wolf came and blew his house right down. So he ran to the next little pig’s house, but he was a dumbass too because he built his house out of wood. The big bad wolf huffed and puffed and blew that house down too. So they ran like hell to their brother’s house. But he was smart. He was a bricklayer and built his house out of bricks.
That damned wolf huffed and puffed, but couldn’t blow the house down. So he decided to climb down the chimney. Those pigs got smart. They had a big pot of boiling water waiting for him, and when he came down that chimney, they kicked his ass and threw him in the pot. And that was the end of him. And that’s the story of the three little pigs.
She was so funny in her Italian, Pittsburgh, wild west way. I’ve never met another like her.
Aunt Blanche was buried in pants, a western style belt with a big buckle, and a western style shirt with a rooster on each front panel where pockets would have been. My cousin Rich gave a masterful eulogy she would have loved. I don’t know how he managed it, since I tear up over McDonald’s commercials.
She would have been happy to know that her daughter, Nancy and my sister, Mary fixed her face and hair, so she looked great in the casket with not a mustache hair in sight. As I patted her soft, black hair and kissed her goodbye, I knew it was the end of an amazing line. God bless you Aunt Blanche.
I am way behind in recipe sharing, but those will come in my next post, in a day or two. This one is devoted to Aunt Blanche, who was kick-ass before the word even started being used.
If you’re lucky enough to have loving family that’s still around, ask questions, record them, spend time with them, love them and write down their classic lines. You won’t regret it.
I wish you the best 2020 filled with love, laughter, luck, prosperity and some good fairy tales. Enjoy!