My Beautiful Wickedness

Will this no-good week never end?
September 22, 2007, 10:25 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

My aunt Elnora (my godmother) died tonight. She was my mother’s favorite sister. She had been a spindley, sickly child who was not supposed to live because of the bum heart that runs in our family. She was the girl in the family who did the indoor work because she was too weak to walk the farm looking for runaway cows; she got her strength back over time and as an adult, she could run up and down the mountainside like a goat. She left Kentucky at 18 to work in a defense plant in Akron. She spent the war riveting the bodies of fighter planes. She worked long shifts partnered with a small, shy man who had been too physically delicate and thin to qualify as a soldier. He didn’t talk to her for months; he was a backward mountain boy and he stuttered a little. Finally, he worked up the courage to ask her name. They began to tease each other, him outside the plane, her inside in the uncertain light. They fell in love and married — only after the war, as they worried that she would be fired if she was a married woman. She and my uncle David were never more than a few yards apart for most of their marriage. They had a strong physical attraction for one another (7 sons later, they still wanted to touch each other), but they also had a day-in, day-out durable constant love for each other. My mother stayed with her every summer when my mom was a teen — Elnora needed the help with the kids. What little of the world my mother saw before she married was due to her big sister.

I was the girl Elnore never had. She was a 4-H leader for 40 years; she understood the hearts of children and was a great teacher of common things. We spent a lot of time together in the woods and she listened to me as I talked and talked, but she also taught me to listen to the world and to really see it. She had a roaming spirit and the woods calmed her. She taught me not just the names of flowers and roots, but their purposes within the ecosystem, their uses for treating illnesses, and something of their artistic enjoyment.

She liked people. She took you as you were and looked for the good in you. She believed in human effort more than she believed in divine intervention, but she had a strong faith. She was simple, strong, and joyful.

She is as forever for me as the New River, helping to carve me into who I am and leading me toward who I want to become.


6 Comments so far
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I am so sorry for your loss, bridgett. My thoughts & prayers are with you and your family.

Comment by Ginger

We all need women like that as our mentors….She sounds wonderful….

Hold tight to what’s good…remember it.

Comment by imfunny2

I’m sorry….

Comment by Nick Dupree

Bridgett, I’m so sorry for your loss. I know how important women like your aunt are in our lives.

Comment by listie

Bridgett, I’m so sorry to hear this. She sounds like she was a fantastic woman.

Comment by nm


Comment by jo(e)

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