It’s easy to love people who love you back. Who are good, kind, and remember your birthday. Loving someone who is a pain in the behind is much harder. And yet, somehow much more memorable and educational. Humans seem to need everything to be exceedingly problematic to learn anything, and I am no exception. Neither was Aron.
Aron was Nusha’s (my Mother’s) youngest sibling and we were raised together till I was almost six. We were Jewish refugees living in difficult circumstances outside Munich in 1948. His challenge wasn’t necessarily that he was a Holocaust survivor; Aron would have been a problem child even if he had been born in Des Moines. He had this “j’ne sais quois” quality of intelligence, Dean Martin good looks, and the ability to charm anyone he wanted to. The operative word here is “wanted,” but those stories will have to wait for another 4 a.m. morning.
He took crap from no one! Certainly not one three-year-old girl with a big Polish Ghetto Litvak accented Yiddish/German mouth that knew as many languages as she was old. Thanks to a liberated Father, she had her own Rabbi Hebrew tutor at two. Learning Yiddish on purpose to figure out what the grown-ups were saying was a piece of cake (has to be the Zaslover Chutzpah genes we are so known for).
Nusha liked nicknames and everyone’s had a little twang of some sort. She called him “Aronchik” – the Romania, Russian, Polish, German, French, Yiddish (all languages she was fluent in) equivalent of Aron. She also made him take care of me. Eighteen-year-old males don’t much like babysitting their bratty nieces, even if they are adorably cute with blond curly locks.
So here I am toilet trained, needing to go to the bathroom, pulling on his trouser leg.
“Aronchik,” I cried. “Ich daf gehen pishen.” (Aron, I have to go pee.)
“Pish in dien hosen,” my uncle responded. (Pee in your trousers.)
“Pish auf sich” I answered. (Pee on yourself.)
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