Last week the world lost light, and our family lost a matriarch.
Pearl Bramson Upton, 94, affectionately known as Miss Pearl (to her family she was “Baba”), passed on at 11:28 am on January 28th, 2021 at her winter residence in Rancho Mirage, CA.
Baba left behind her daughter Marilee Upton-Spatz and son Douglas Upton, her grandchildren Linzy, Ashley, Allison, Ariele, myself, Skippy Mesirow, and a large extended family of nieces, nephews, and cousins.
Baba was an original! A vegan and meditator since the 60s. All glam. Zero brain mouth barrier. Whip-smart, and oh so feisty. She was loving and stern, hilarious and idiosyncratic, opinionated and more opinionated, and fair. If Frank Sinatra had met her right before writing "My Way" that would have made sense, and he might have.
In the 30’s she worked to put my Grandfather through medical school, labor that forever changed their lives, having grown up in basic immigrant conditions in Chicago, and my Grandfather as the only Jewish family in rural IL. Following the completion of his degree, she earned her own medal, graduating with a degree in economics from the University of Chicago in the 40s. Over the next several decades she managed the family finances, helping amplify my grandfather’s labor, which allowed them to visit Aspen in 1952. Eventually, they purchased their first condo here in 1964.
Our family existed between her home in Glencoe outside of Chicago where I grew up, and their condos in Snowmass Village and Rancho Mirage, CA. Those homes were a wonderland; beautiful, understated, and filled with love and in them, we were grounded in the ethics of hard work, service, adventure, and enjoyment of life. We could not be more grateful or gratified.
We loved and love her so much. She will be missed and carried with us every day. Though in her mid 90's, her passing was unexpected. 40 hours prior she was eating out at a restaurant in Palm Desert dressed to the 9s. She contracted an infection, and it went quick, 18 hours between symptoms and the time of death. Through the depth of sadness my family and I are experiencing, we are reminded that she lived 90+ full-on, healthy, happy, active years surrounded by family and friends. Less than three months ago I was helping her buy new work-out equipment and she used it daily. She left 6 books unfinished that she was reading simultaneously.
As she passed, she did so in a state of purity. No medicines, no technological assistance, just my mother by her bedside, G-d, and her angels.
I will never forget dancing to Fred Astaire's "Dancing in the Dark" in the pool with her when I was little, or the bowl lap I took just after her passing, dancing with her spirit to the same song. I will never forget her smile, or her laugh, or her fortitude. My family will never cease carrying her spirit with us into the world, letting it radiate out. She loved her Aspen family.
She will be sorely sorely missed. It was too soon, and every moment was a blessing.
We will carry her with us every day, as will I. In every act of service, every kindness, every well-tailored suit, every commitment to a higher power.
May her memory be a Baruch dayan emet
RIP Baba; Pearl Bramson Upton. WE LOVE YOU.