Aunt Leah was 87 at the time, long-widowed, still beautiful, and perpetually confident. Most people need to get pushed out of the womb. Leah walked out strutting. She actually lied on “Truth or Consequences” and paid no consequences. Three generations of cousins had a 20-year supply of Campho Phenique because Aunt Leah managed a surgical supply closet. She gave good, solid advice and never seemed to need any. She lifted everybody else's confidence up to her level. The woman was strong.
So it was surprising when she pulls me aside on Passover and whispers, “Mark, you're the only one I can ask. What should I do? My boyfriend wants to touch my breasts." She points. They were very big and very low. ”Should I let him?”
It was strange to be drawn into a sacred ritual normally held in secret by 15-year-old girls, and stranger to discuss anatomical adventures with a very elderly aunt. The strangest thing was to hear Aunt Leah ask for advice. Until I realized she was really asking for permission. “The Greatest Generation” defined a bad girl as one who "does it." My generation hopped on “The Love Train.” We had no such definition. “Doing it” or “not doing it” had nothing to do with it. I gave her the permission she needed.
Aunt Leah’s boyfriend evidently got what he was looking for. They shacked up a month later. After he died, Leah put a sign on her nightstand for the Angel of Death, “I’m not ready yet.” When Leah died at 103, her kid sister, my Mom Ruth, got the sign and put it on her nightstand. Mom's 100 now. Every night before bed, "Little Ruthie" touches her big sister's sign and whispers "I'm not ready yet." Time is precious. Wear your mask and keep faith. There’s always a chance for a little whoopee in your future.