On The Fringe


Full Circle
November 3, 2009, 8:16 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

(Page 99) One of my favorite aunts died yesterday.  She was a pioneer. She was the only woman in my family who educated herself and had a career. My aunt wasn’t as pretty as her sister Alice, my mother. Aunt  Betty had a rather large nose average size body and beautiful hands that she manicured every evening.  I think she knew she was behind the eight ball having to live in the shadow of my mother’s beauty. She often would comment to other people that Alice got the looks but she got the brains. She was the first person to handle me after my mother delivered me. She was there when I took my first breath.

Aunt Betty was the head nurse in South Side hospital in Pittsburgh. She told some amazing stories including abortion night. This was the evening women would go to back alley abortionists. My aunt was the one who would care for them after they had almost bled to death, or infections that were beyond antibiotics. She opened a lot of clients eyes to the horror of women’s lives prior to Roe vs. Wade.

I was with her the weekend before she left this world. We laughed and had a good visit. I was sure I’d be seeing her one more time…pulling up in front of the salon , climbing the steps wearing her martini sunglasses. It didn’t happen that way.

I loved doing her hair because she knew how hard her hair was to do.

She would say, “What  are you going to do with these baby eagle feathers?”

I would blow on her head lightly and then say, “Ok you’re finished”.

When I first opened my salon I told her “No smoking in the salon”. She would head down to the basement and soon I would smell cigarette smoke.

I’d yell to her, “Aunt Betty are you smoking down there?

She would come upstairs and under her breath she would say “Be quiet !”

When I received the phone call from my mother that she had died, I wanted to make sure her hair was done. I felt honored to do the last comb-out for her.  I felt as if I had gone full circle with her.  She was the first to touch my head. I was the last to touch hers.

“Well”, I said, “Lets see what we can do with these feathers.”

“Make it look good toots,” I thought I heard her reply.

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2 Comments so far
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Susan – thanks for sharing a part of your heart – made me think of my grandfather and the last time I saw him – and so very Pittsburgh! I can’t wait to read the rest of the story!

Comment by suzie

Dear Susan,

What a touching story about your Aunt even though I remember her name being different but remember the tough gal that your Aunt was. Susan all I can say is that I heard your voice clear as a bell reaching out to everyone telling us how she should be remembered; for her strength. I felt a pang in my heart for you, too. Reaching out through your pain with an open heart and tons of vulnerability takes a lot of strength.

Comment by Dianne Corkery




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