Among the women of my tribe, many habitating the eastern border of Berwyn, Illinois, in the 1920-30ish and beyond time, Auntie Girlie was remarkable for her height, what there was of it, about 4 feet and maybe 10 inches. She was short. Shortie. And, she had this head of white hair that looked like a frosted muffin plunked upon her head. And, she was TAN. Not chicago-sometimes-for-a-brief-summer tan. She was bronzed, toasty-baked tan, like she worked in fields, which she did not.
She was among my great aunts and she was. great. She moved to California when I was growing into the curious years of age 11 or so. This, the remotest, and most idyllic place most of my kin would only dream of. Aunt Girlie being in California was all that was needed. I needn’t go there; but the fact she did was honorable, a brush with the exotic, sexy.
Not that she, or my other aunties would think that, I don’t think. Holiness held sway over sexy. That is why, I think, that Auntie Girlie paled in comparison to Auntie May, if presence is what you go by. Auntie May had an abundance of presence, though delicate in type with the thinnest of braided bun cuddled at the base of her neck. Her bun was the color of egg yolks.
She prayed, a rosary sliding through her fingers absently, familiarly, most of the time. This marked her presence. She sort of rustled, which was the sound of the rosary beads, heralding an aura she was within, as if she connected directly upward, to the community of holy dead people the rest of us didn’t have a prayer of becoming neighbors with.