Friday, December 11, 2009


Angie was my aunt. She was more than that, really. She was my Other Mother. Always there. Always patient. Always happy.

The love of her life never came home from WWII. She never married. Never had children. She became Mother to me and many of my cousins and all of us thought of her with the same love you have for your mother.

She fought to get her job at the telephone company during the war. They didn’t want to hire her because she had polio. She wore a heavy leg brace, ugly built up shoes and walked with a limp. No, it was much more than a limp. Her uneven legs and her weak side threw her into such a meandering gait that every eye turned her way whenever she moved. She convinced the phone company that as a telephone operator she’d be sitting down all day so it wouldn’t matter. They were worried about all the work she’d miss.

I’d love to have been in the room during her interview when she convinced them to hire her. She eventually received an award for 30 years PERFECT ATTENDANCE.

She worked a late shift at the phone company, most of the time, getting home after midnight. Still, she was there every morning, carving my pancakes into faces with grins and big square eyes. She was there when I got home from school, with my snack, and with dinner ready in the oven before she left for work, so my mother and my youngest aunt would have food when they got home at 6 PM.

She walked her walk beside me through countless school halls and stores and trips. Never bothered that my little girl legs ran circles around her wherever we went. And what a nurse! It was almost a delight to be a sickly little girl with asthma, bronchitis and bouts of pneumonia. I spent days in a sunny bedroom, with a kitten, a book, a doll, and Aunt Angie. She made me soup. She buttered my toast. She handed me anything I wanted. And me too little to ever think of her and her painful steps, or what it meant to watch her cut callouses off her uneven feet.

No one ever thought of her crippled state. And that was her glory.

For the most remarkable thing about Angie was that she was crippled, and no one ever remembered it.

What did she feel inside about never marrying or having children? About loving to dance and having a body that fought her? About not being able to run, to take long walks, to ride a bike? I was too young to ever wonder.

Her smile, her eyes, her deep, true kindness radiated from her and met you right up front; filled your senses with delight and joy, so that you were blind to any defect, any pain she had. A spinster who lived her life with other people’s kids, in someone else’s house. Dear Lord, if I can only live in such a way to be remembered with the sweetness and fondness and love that we all remember Aunt Angie, I will die happy.

This is a poem to Angie,
Not as my Aunt, but as a woman.
A woman who never knew
that she was beautiful,
Nor remembered she was crippled.
Who, though thoughtless, ignorant people
laughed at her,
Found a reason to laugh with all.
Who loved all God's creation so intensely,
That speaking of children and animals
and ordinary people,
Brought tears of joy to her eyes.
Who loved everyone so much,
It was difficult for her
to love one person exclusively.
Who was not religious,
But was God-like in her truly Universal love.
Who could laugh until her sides ached,
And defy the strongest of the unjust.
Who never, never quit,
Until the end,
When she could not place her burden
of old age upon those she loved.
This is a poem to Angie's beauty,
Which, after her crippled body faded to dust,
Lingers still.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • JENNY888
    Thank you Karen for sharing this again. I didn't get to read it the original time. I'm glad I did now. Your other mother, Angie, will stay in my memory.
    2681 days ago
    No wonder you are the woman you are!!! Look at the role model you had. Karen, this is lovely.
    2886 days ago
  • JUSTJO66
    Karen what a wonderful testament to your Aunt Angie. A beautiful poem and memories. I suspect you might be more like her than even you can image.
    2895 days ago
    She sounds wonderful. She certainly made a huge impact on your life and others as well.
    2897 days ago
    What a W-O_M_A_N!
    2897 days ago
    What a blessing for you to have had an "Aunt Angie" in your life. I know one of the reasons you remember her in such a loving and beautiful way is because you see people as she did. you see in people the beauty and the kindness, not the temper, the disabilities and other things that are in most people. Your stories reflect a kindness in you that maybe you picked up from being around your aunt.

    And she is lucky to have been remembered so graciously!
    Thank you for the beautiful blog.
    2897 days ago
    Karen, that was a beautiful story. It reminded me of my own mother, who was severely crippled with RA. I remember as a child asking her if her hands would ever be like mine, not all twisted up. She said "when I die". Well I was 48 when she died, and I was lucky enough to be with her. The minute she took her last breath, I remember looking at her hands. They were still twisted and crippled. I cried. Yes, at 48, I really thought they would straighten. I finally realized what she meant. When she got to heaven, she would not be in pain anymore, mentally and physically.

    I remember beating kids and adults (when I got to be an adult) up for laughing at her and they called her "gimp" because she could hardly walk on her crippled legs. My mom loved to play Bingo, and I don't know how she did it, but I would take her and my grandmother, and sometimes go with them, and she would buy a lot of cards and she played them, I don't know how.

    Thanks for the poem and for the memories. You were very fortunate to have someone like your aunt in your life. I believe having someone like these two ladies, helped us learn NEVER to make fun of others. Sharon
    2897 days ago
  • GABY1948
    Karen what a wonderful and loving memorial to Aunt Angie. Oh, that we could ALL be remembered so beautifully but ANYONE in our lives. That would be completeness to me. God Bless you and your sweet heart!
    2898 days ago
    This is a beautiful blog. What fond memories you have of a Wonderful person. Thank you for helping me remember the beauty in people.
    2898 days ago
    Absolutely beautiful, you're a very good writer Karen. I thoroughly enjoyed hearing about Angie, she sounds like a wonderful soul who left many lessons for us all.

    I'm sure she would be proud to know you remember her so fondly.

    2898 days ago
    What a beautiful poem and blog. You were blessed to have her in your life, but you already know that. I wish for myself and everyone a little bit of Aunt Angie resides in all of us. Her wonderful attitde and fortitude and kindness. The world would be a much better place with more Aunt Angies.

    Thank you Karen. Have a wonderful afternoon. PJ emoticon
    2898 days ago
    Your aunt was your guardian angel. Your memories of her will carry you through many difficult times. She must have been an inspiration to many others. You were fortunate to have her as an important part of your life.
    Thanks for sharing the story with us. emoticon
    2898 days ago
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