November 20, 2014

Jim’s aunt Annita turned 91 a little over a week ago. She spent her birthday at the Summit Medical Center in Oakland, having been admitted five days earlier because she’d gotten to the point where she was unable to eat or drink and her husband (Jim’s uncle Dean) was struggling to care for her. After about a week, they moved her to Piedmont Gardens, a skilled nursing facility not too far from their home. She’s now in the hospice ward and it looks like that’s where she’ll remain.

Piedmont Gardens is just around the corner from the historic Church of St. Leo the Great, which is where Annita and Dean were married (60 years ago), and where I think all five of their kids (most of them anyway) went to St. Leo’s catholic school.. as did Jim and his two siblings.

These things are hard. Annita lived a long life and I think she would say it was full and rich and happy.  But it’s still sad to see the matriarchs go. It’s sad to see the generation pass on. Jim’s mom (Annita’s sister) died almost 45 years ago–way too early–from cancer, so to see Annita frail and close, is bringing up a lot of sad memories. It’s like she’s taking with her the last part of Jim’s mom.

Annita and Sonia were raised in Brazil, children of a French mom and Brazilian dad, and lived a high life. The short version of the story–I’m definitely glossing over details here–is that on a vacation to California when the sisters were young adults, they met two brothers from Kansas at some kind of officers club and (eventually) married them–Dean and Jim’s dad. Two sisters married two brothers… it made for a lot of very close cousins.

Four of the eight cousins live in or within an hour of the Bay Area. The other four are scattered about, but still close and in touch. Email’s been flying the last three weeks. Jim and I went down today to see Annita and spend some time with Dean. We saw John (who came up from Arcadia) and Marie who drove over from Mountain View.

The good news is they are able to keep her comfortable. She doesn’t really have anything wrong, she’s just old and slowing way, way down. We’re not sure how aware she is; her memory is mostly gone. Most of the time she sleeps; she’s really not even able to eat. I think it will be a quiet passing.

Here are some pictures:

Sonia (left) and Annita (right) in outfits their mom, Vovo, a designer (I’m corrected when I call her a seamstress) made:

In 1930 (age 7):

sonia and annita 2

In 1932 (age 9):

sonia and annita

This one’s from a family reunion in 2001 (age 78):


Christmas 2008 (age 85):


And a couple from a reunion in 2011 (age 88):


And with Uncle Dean, who’s taken very good care of her:


3 Responses to “Annita”

  1. a beautiful woman; love these photos over time; sisters marrying brothers – great times for sure

  2. Teresa Cheyney Says:

    This is just lovely. Thank you, Kari. Much love to you and Jim and Peter.

  3. […] Dear sweet Aunt Annita passed away yesterday; she was 92.  I wrote a little bit about her life  here.  […]

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