My birth Aunt, Florence Kessler Cronson, passed away on November 16, 2019, at the age of 97. I never met Florence, nor did she know I existed. Yet, I was very sorry to hear the news of her passing.
Florence was my mother’s birth sister. She had no idea that her parents, Abe and Anna Kessler, gave their first child up for adoption.
Up until November 14th when she had surgery for skin cancer, Florence was living independently in Texas in the home she had shared with her husband. She insisted on doing her own cleaning in her last years, and still drove locally to the grocery store and to her hairdresser. Her older sister, Esther, who had lived in Boston, MA, died in 2013, at the age of 95.
Esther was the “fancy” sister who liked material things. However, Florence, from what I learned, was a simple person and reminded me of my mother, May, also her sister, who died in 1961 at the age of 43.
I had really hoped to meet Florence to see her mannerisms and to learn more about her. I had hoped that would be an insight into what my mother may have been like had she lived longer. Everything I have read says that siblings, even when they were not raised together, had similar mannerisms.
So, here are some things I know about the two of them. Are they just coincidences?
- Florence was a shy, private person. My mother was definitely shy, too.
- Florence was tall with light-brown hair and eyes and very pretty and sweet. I always thought my mother was tall for her generation. She was 5’ 61/2” with light-brown hair and blue eyes. She was also known to be very pretty and sweet.
- Florence grew up surrounded by her first cousins. Once she moved to Texas, she lost touch with most of them and in her last years, mainly kept in contact with her sister’s daughter, Andrea, and her first cousin, Estelle Eisler. She belonged to a college sorority and kept in touch with her sorority sisters for many years. Later in life, she had few friends except for a neighbor. My mother grew up surrounded by her cousins but as the years went by, it was harder to stay in contact with them. In Queens, NY, and after we moved to NJ, she was friends with only one or two neighbors.
- Florence had 3 children over a span of 9 years. When the youngest was born, the other 2 were 4 and 9. My mother had 4 children over 12 years. When the youngest was born, the rest of us were 5, 8 and 12. You can see that in both families, the children were spaced out and not close in age.
- Florence was considered a homebody and put her family first. She loved to cook. My mother was a homebody and put her family first. She also loved to cook.
- Florence never died her hair or wore much makeup. My mother never wore much makeup and did not dye her hair, except for one time when she added some red to her hair.
- My mother was a worrier and definitely passed that on to me. Florence was also known to be a worrier and possibly passed that down to her children, too.
- Although she did drive, Florence did not like to. My mother took one driving lesson and was too nervous to continue with any more.
I know my mother would have loved having sisters. However, she grew up in a very loving home and her adopted mother, my grandmother, Minnie, adored her. Minnie was definitely a worrier so how much of my mother’s personality came from Minnie, or how much was handed down from her birth family we will never know. But what we do know is that both May and Florence were loving mothers.