I'm not writing about Roseanne, the comedian, I'm writing about my cousin Rosanne. Yesterday I found out that she died. She died six months ago and no one in my immediate family knew about it.
There were four first cousins on my mother's side of the family. My sister Dale and my cousin Susan, are seven years older than my cousin Rosanne and me. Almost every Saturday of my childhood the entire family, aunts, uncles and cousins, would gather at my grandfather's house in Bed Stuy and have big family meals, straight out of a Woody Allen movie, with lots of arguing and lots of food. Rosanne and Susan were both only children. Rosanne's dad, Abe, was the oldest sibling and he worked at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. His temper was legendary and his wife, Margie, was a Lucille Ball lookalike. I always loved to stay at Rosanne's apartment on Lenox Avenue in Brooklyn because it was so different from the suburbs. (Which she loved.) They lived in a small two bedroom apartment and they didn't seem to have a lot of money, but Rosanne got everything she wanted. Her room liked like F.A.O. Schwartz. She also got spanked, a real over the knee kind of punishment - which never happened in my house. We got hit, but never spanked. I always felt so sad for Rosanne when she got spanked while I was staying with her. It was so humiliating, although I was never in the same room, I could hear her cries. She also ate ketchup sandwiches every night before she went to bed, probably until she got to high school when she became quite a goddess. She had very long, straight brown hair (I was jealous, I had to set mine on giant rollers and sit under a hair dryer for over an hour - I was more the Roseanne Rosanna Danna type.) Boys were always falling all over themselves around her.
She became a midwife at a large city hospital and got married in her twenties. Her husband was an anesthesiologist and soon after they had a baby, a son named David, her husband died.
She moved to Florida and her parents joined her there. The three of them raised David. She ran her department in a large public hospital and never remarried. Everything was going well, until around 10 years ago, when she contracted Hepatitis C. I don't know many of the details because, as adults, we weren't very close. Her parents died. I'd moved to California in my twenties, then back to NY and we lost touch. I got my information from Dale, who remained in contact with Rosanne. We have such a small family, there weren't many weddings or Bar Mitzvahs. People live all over the country and we don't communicate very often, other than an occasional holiday card. There was one family gathering at our loft in SoHo, probably in 2000, because I remember that Zoe and David and several other members of the family went to the top of the World Trade Center.
Yesterday, I got a call from my nephew Andrew (Dale's son) that he had heard from David that Rosanne died in March. She was sick with Hep C, Lupus, Arthritis and Restless Leg Syndrome and the pain was too much for her. She stopped taking her meds and died. She never called hospice, or anyone in the family. She was constantly fighting with her insurance company for coverage, David was her only support, and she'd had enough. David has no contact with his father's family and he waited six months to call us. I spoke to him last night and I may be going to Florida in a month so hopefully, we will see each other. He is twenty-three years old and he has very little family. He decided to join the Navy and will be inducted next February. Dale has invited him to stay with her and her husband in Pennsylvania for Thanksgiving.
I'm sorry that Rosanne had so much pain at the end of her life. I'm sorry I didn't know how sick she was. I'm sad that David waited six months to tell us of her death, but I hope that we can be more of a family to him in the future.