Sunday, May 6, 1973. I was 19 years old and a college sophomore. Sunday morning, I walked down the steps of my parents’ house to find my father in the living room, in tears. I don’t remember ever seeing my father cry before. He said that his sister, my Aunt Mollie, had died unexpectedly the day before. Mollie Laufman, who was 69 years old, died suddenly of a heart attack. She lived alone in Miami Beach. She married later in life to a gentleman named Oscar Laufman who died months after the wedding, of a heart attack. My father once said his sister Mollie had numerous suitors when she was young but she always found some fault in the men she dated. “No man was ever good enough for her,” he said, “and she paid the price. She ended up alone.”
I remember the evening of Aunt Mollie’s funeral. The family gathered at my Aunt Ella’s apartment. Early that evening I telephoned my piano teacher to tell her that I had to cancel my weekly piano lesson. I explained that my aunt had died. My piano teacher didn’t seem sympathetic. She said, “Well, were you close?” Moments later I told Aunt Ella what my piano teacher had said, and she retorted incredulously: “She asked you if you were close? You should have said, ‘no, we weren’t close. She lived in Miami Beach!’” The Freedmans were comedians.