She was my ex-husband's aunt - one of the family members I kept when we split up. She was as wild as her younger sister, my mother-in-law, was well behaved.
She was a model and a writer. She was a drama queen. She was a free spirit who followed her impulses and her heart. She raised her children in Los Angeles (she and her husband were once writers for the 'Love, American Style' TV show. I was too young to properly understand the show when it was on, but I loved it...). After her marriage fell apart, she decided to move to New York. She found a job, her friends threw her a marvelous good-bye party, she moved, and the job fell through. I asked her why she didn't just turn around and move back, she said, 'I couldn't do that! They'd just all given me a wonderful party!'
So, she found work as a freelance writer. She fell in love with the city, and an artist there. As she got older, when she was in her late sixties, and money ran short, she went back to school and got her teaching certificate. She worked as a substitute teacher in the New York public schools for the next couple of years. (Even though I never actually saw it, I have a vivid mental picture of the always glamorous Sherli running herd on a group of city teens in gym class, as she did for a time.)
Eventually, time took its toll. Her memory started to go, so she gave up her apartment in New York, and moved back to Los Angeles to live with her daughter. I spent some time with them there on one of my camper van trips, and was struck by how patient Audrey was with her mother. Sherli was in good hands her last few years - this past week, she died from a brain aneurysm.
Aunt Sherli - I will never be as adventurous as you were; my spirit won't be as free. But you showed me how to grab for the golden ring; that there's more to life than making the safe choices. Life is sometimes kind to those who take risks - that was a good lesson for me to learn.
Be free once again, now. Pull out the heels and the dresses, the martini glass held just so, the long cigarette holder. Hold court with your bevy of admirers once again.
I love you.