I can’t really tell you when I first met Rose. I must have been very very little. Even as a kid, under 5, I recognized that Rose was someone who lit up and then took over a room. Her energy showed through her face, and her long hair coupled with the ponchos and cute hats she tended to wear made quite an impression. Whenever we would say hello or goodbye, she’d hold me close and say, “Ohhh, gimme some sugar.” It took me ages to figure out what that meant, I’m not going to lie.
Rose was my grandpa’s cousin, but rather than referring to her as “first cousin twice removed” or whatever the heck the correct terminology would be, my family and I always referred to her, her children, and her grandchildren as cousins. As I came to appreciate Rose more and more, I created my own special name for her – Bubbin, which is a combination of Bubba and cousin. She seemed to like the word pretty well.
Whenever Rose would visit my family for brunch, she had a wealth of stories to tell. When I was a kid, I couldn’t understand how someone could always have that many amazing stories ready and waiting. As I got older, I learned how far Rose’s life extended beyond the prism of how I knew her. Rose marched in Selma with Dr. Martin Luther King and got thrown in jail. At a time when a lot of women were staying at home with the kids, Rose ran a bar in Akron and had to deal with racial tensions, gangs, and all sorts of other crazy things that seem too extraordinary to believe. Rose traveled the world.
Rose got to meet two great-grandchildren and got to dote especially on little Amelia Rose. Rose instilled in all of her family and friends the importance of connecting and then staying connected. She was human glue. You couldn’t help but stick to her.
I found out this week that Rose has returned to her wandering ways, this time to a place where we can’t hear from her. It seems like we should all be quite happy for her because she had been in great pain and discomfort for the last several years, but still, when you have a personality that large, it’s bound to leave a gaping hole.
Luckily, you don’t have to depend on just my words to get to know Rose. Her grandson, my cousin Josh, is an excellent documentarian, and he used his skills to create an hour-long movie about Rose called The Bubba Briefs. You can view the trailer if you like (scroll down the page) and get a glimpse into the lady the world is now deprived of.
Rest in peace, Bubbin. We all miss you.