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Charlotte Rose Brand died April 16, 2014, in Peabody, Massachusetts. She was 91 years old, and so central to her large family — so imperative — that they were left, as her niece put it, “desperate with feeling”.
In an era when women married without question, Charlotte never married, for no particularly dark or stormy reason. Yet she was rarely alone.
She lived in the in-law apartment of her brother’s house. Nieces and nephews crossed a few feet from their home to hers at all hours — to eat lobster and bacon banned from their kosher kitchen, to paint rocks, to work on art projects, to contemplate life with an aunt who was always available. “Don’t look at the lines,” she instructed, on painting and deeper topics, “look at the color.” She had no gift for infants and couldn’t work a baby bottle, but the children growing around her were a constant delight.
Charlotte was good with math — she tutored her nephews — but bad with directions, and usually lost. Though diabetic, she joyfully dipped almost anything edible in Ghiradelli 60 percent dark chocolate, could be counted on to treat her niece and girlfriends to the chocolate buffet at the local hotel, and insisted on bringing muffins to her weekly art class at the senior center.
There was always something more she wanted to do and did: bounce on a trampoline in her 70s, take in a Seinfeld comedy show in her 80s. Given all this life, it simply had not occurred to the family that she would die, and no burial preparations had been made. But the plot purchased afterwards was full of people she already knew.
Until a few weeks before her death, Charlotte hosted a soiree every Wednesday afternoon at 1. Family, neighbors, and whoever else had crossed her path that week would find her in front of trays of lox, crisps of toast, bowls of nuts and olives. She wore her costume jewels, offered gin and tonics, and was full of a spirit unrelated to the alcohol. In addition to a memorial, her family has planned a soiree for her. It is expected, in one form or another, that she will attend.
Did you know Charlotte Rose Brand? Share your memories in the comments section.