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Ode to my Niece,Thais (June 25, 1937-February 19, 20012)
By Larry Aubry
Published September 13, 2018

Larry Aubry 

Thais Aubry’s father was my eldest brother, Paul Aubry Jr. But since we were only four years apart, people often thought Thais and I were brother and sister….spiritually, we were. Our relationship was always solid, but it grew stronger in the sixties because we were unapologetically Black and shared similar views on matters of race, fairness and social justice. As adults, we did not really see a lot of each other, but when we did, it was an enjoyable, enriching and mutually supportive time.

Thais was special to her grandmother, “Mama Aubry” (my mother) because she was her first grand-daughter. My mother had 8 children, all boys, and her first two grandchildren also were boys. So for Mama Aubry, Thais’ arrival was, to say the least, gratifying and a special occasion for celebration.

Early on, it was clear that Thais was exceptionally bright; less obvious at first, was her propensity for making friends and helping people. She savored stimulating conversation and having a good time: By the way, she was not averse to having a few beers to warm up and enliven a conversation, which she often punctuated with undiluted obscenities. (A high school classmate still insists she was smarter than her teachers. (sm.)

Thais was magnetic and young people especially, sought her out, be it for help with math or Spanish, or just to talk. Thais’ innate gift for giving and sharing was instilled by her family; her nieces and nephews, whom she took under her motherly wing, were primary recipients. (I used to tell her eldest brother Paul that I felt essence of both Thais and their mother typified “Mother Earth.” I couldn’t explain it, but each exuded warmth and a ready shoulder to lean on. Frankly, I’m not sure that words can adequately describe the singular combination of Thais’ passion, extraordinary intellect and selfless giving.

Of course, Thais’ family was the incubator for her values and future endeavors. She was proud of what she was and equally proud of her Creole heritage and culture. Anyone who knew her knew that Thais was a staunch advocate for Black power well before it became fashionable.

Her parents instilled a legacy of community service in their children which obviously became a very important part of Thais’ life. Like both her mother and father, Thais was a natural “go-to” person; young and old, no matter their race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation- folks looked to her and found support and guidance. Her door was always open and I’d bet anything that she never let anyone down who sought her help.

She was hands-on heavily into civil rights work, close to acclaimed author James Baldwin and even closer to his brother David, they dated.

She was a world traveler, most notably made several trips to Arica. However despite her many accomplishments, Thais was a humble person, never asking or expecting anything in return for her good deeds because, for her, that came naturally, simply the thing to do.

Finally, even during the depths of Alzheimer’s, Thais’ inner strength, her special smile and radiance all came through. I believe an ancient Muslim definition of love captures Thais’ essence. It goes like this: “Love is the desire to share with others that which you have been blessed to receive.” Thais was so blessed; she shared her life to the fullest and we too are blessed that she passed our way.

l.aubry@att.net

Categories: Celebration of Life | Larry Aubry | Opinion
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