Sadie Simmaleah Fuchs Hutner
Sadie named herself Sydelle - and she was Aunt Syd to us.
Robert, Michele, Max and I went to Santa Fe on 11/29/03
for a memorial event, honoring the life and peaceful passing
of Aunt Syd, mother of Alan and Vickie, grandmother and
great-grandmother...and a firecracker of an aunt.
Simmaleah, we chanted, to her memory.
She died on November 24, and was 87 years old.
Our last visit with Syd was the end of August, when Vickie and John
came from Pennsylvania to see her, Alan and Elizabeth. My feelings
at that time about Aunt syd were that she was getting lighter, smaller
and quieter, and almost disappearing. I posted a poem by Rumi -
The Diver's Clothes Lying Empty which expressed my certainty then that
we were seeing her in a transition, for the last time. (If you click on this link
you can go to that page, then click Back to return here.)
With Michele's permission, I am posting her thoughts on her Aunt Syd,
which she was too emotional to read at the memorial. I think it is
a wonderful memory of a woman who was very much alive, Sadie
FOR AUNT SYD
NOVEMBER 29, 2003
Tootsie worked at Hanes' Willow Grove store with Aunt Syd. Tootsie's name,
I came to find out years later, was Jane. But apparently, when Tootsie was
hired, there was another women working there named Jane (what are the
chances?), so Aunt Syd renamed the new one Tootsie.
I used to go in to work with Aunt Syd two or three times a year as a gift
wrapper-Christmas, Valentine's Day, Mother's Day. I'd make bows and wrap
packages, all for a BLT-that was our traditional lunch-that and getting to
spend the day with Aunt Syd.
They had flashers come in there, can you believe it? And transvestites,
whom Aunt Syd would fit with the perfect women's undergarments. It was all
quite shocking to me then, but epitomized the best of my Aunt-she wasn't a
stickler for the rules (what a relief in 1950's America). She had her
friends, Alice and Lois, the gay couple with the Dalmatian with one blue eye
and one brown..
My Aunt Syd lit up a room when she walked in, partly because she glowed with
energy, fun, and a zest for life, and partly because she dressed in sequins
and bright colors. She always looked "just so"-her hair coiffed perfectly
(by Bob), matching everything-heels, slacks, top, coat, bag, make-up. I
always thought she was gorgeous.
When you went out to eat with Aunt Syd, you always knew you'd get dessert.
She loved her sweets. She is the only person I know who thought you could
cut the sweetness of Pecan pie with vanilla ice cream. When she lived at
the Kingston, we used to go to the Red Lobster for lunch. We would always
start by sharing a shrimp cocktail, then Crab Fettuccini Alfredo, and then,
just as I thought I was going to explode, Aunt Syd would pick up the dessert
menu. We would finish our meal with the Chocolate Fudge Brownie A La Mode.
I don't know where she put it!
My Aunt Syd could add vast amounts of numbers in her head. You could write
twenty or thirty two or three digit numbers one under the other, and she
would go down the list and add them in her head, quickly and accurately.
She said it was because in New York, when she was little and in school, the
children had to learn their addition and subtraction tables the same way
kids today learn multiplication. Actually, it was just one of her special
gifts. Which brings me to Hearts. Don't ever play Hearts with Syd, or Alan,
or Vicki, or John. That's all I'll say.
Aunt Syd would call every once in a while with this brief message:
"Tomorrow night. Uncle Morris is making sausage and meatballs." The next
night, Robert and I would dutifully eat dinner with our family at five
o'clock sharp, help clean up, then dash through the woods to Aunt Syd's
where two extra place settings sat waiting for us. And on the table was the
famous avocado green bowl with the divider in it-one side sausage, one side
meatballs, steam rising. Wow.
Aunt Syd had her own sayings (Sydisms). Two of my personal favorites, which
I use often, are: "It don't owe ya nothin' ", which was to indicate you
were wearing a garment one time too many, and "That's why there's chocolate
and vanilla" (or chocolate and strawberry, depending on her mood and the
situation). When I was pregnant with Seth and visiting, we got into a
discussion about turtlenecks. I said I couldn't stand anything up around my
neck, and she said: "Wait 'til you get to be my age; the neck is the first
thing to go!"
"Come early!" That was my mother's final word into the phone every weekday
morning. Aunt Syd would call on the phone to say she was coming-I don't
know why, she always stopped on her way to work to have coffee and cake and
matzo-and-butter and gossip with my mother and grandmother. The gossip was
half in English and half in Yiddish. It was great to be home from school
and crowd around the kitchen table with the ladies and their coffee and
their gossip and their laughter.
My mother told me that she was nine when Uncle Morris started dating Aunt
Syd. Syd lived far away, so after their date, they would come back to
Granny Annie's house, and Aunt Syd would share little Muriel's bed. In the
morning, Muriel would watch Syd put on her make-up-the beautiful big sister.
Seventy years they spent together, through bouts of illness, husbands dying
and coming and going, raising the kids, Family Circle, Cousin's Club, nights
at the theatre, dinner and dancing. They made the most of their time
A good time, a good life shouldn't end up incapacitated in a hospital bed.
So, Aunt Syd, I cheer you on your journey. Say hi to Stan, and Morris, and
Granny Annie for us. We'll be along soon. Have a good time.
Your loving niece,
We are all deeply grateful to Alan Hutner and Elizabeth Rose for seeing
Syd through this * transition * and all the love and care they gave her
crossing through the fear and pain to a gentle acceptance and forgiveness.
Also thanks go to Bill - and Parvati - and others
who helped her, and Andy Gold, the rabbi who led the group on 11/29/03
with beautiful chanting and exploration of the meaning of it all, without denial.<
...Anyone who would like to add remembrances or thoughts about Aunt Syd,
please do so using the *comments* link below...