Aunt Hannah

This information has been gathered from here and there. Some information was passed down as family story… and later confirmed by census records, obituaries, school forms. Some is new information from census and other records. Bits and pieces that make up a person’s life.  I hope to get to know her for myself one day.

Great Aunt Hannah.  I wish I could have known her story better, you know, the face to face knowing.  She made the trip once, I think, from the Atlantic shore to the Pacific when I was maybe 6 or 8 years old.  She was from Vermont, we were from the other side…the Olympic Peninsula.  It’s no wonder we hardly saw her.  So much I admired about my great aunt from a distance. Like Grandma, she had experienced disruption in her young life.  She was a small child when their Momma died.  As if losing a Mom isn’t enough, her big brother of 17 committed suicide just after, and after that their Father disappeared.  Some relatives think their Father went back to Russia.  Some think he may have died or suicided.  In any case, Hannah, Naomi and the eldest sister Esther became orphans, ages approximately 7, 10 and 11.  

The girls for a short time went to live with relatives.  I’d give anything to know who those relatives might be.  Any relatives. Someday maybe.  Just after living with relatives, the sisters were split up and sent to separate orphanages.  It was during the time at the orphanage that a couple little Orthodox Jewish girls were introduced to Christianity.  Both Grandma Naomi and Great Aunt Hannah took the leap and because Christ followers, but were frightened of telling each other.  I can only imagine how hard that decision was.  They could easily lose what was left of their family. It’s unknown if Great Aunt Esther became a Christian, too.  One day Hannah and Naomi took off, walking toward each other. They met in a field where they’d always meet …  alone together one of them had the courage to tell the other. Afterwards the sisters had a lifetime of sharing their treasured faith together.  Their letters and poems were full of bits and pieces of their love for the Lord.

Somehow the sisters were taken out of orphanage life and brought back to the extended family home, and were sent to school.  Story has it that one of Grandma Naomi’s teachers became fond of her, and offered to pay her way through college.  Grandma Naomi decided to give the opportunity to her sister Hannah.  I’m not sure if Grandma Naomi didn’t care for school, or if she simply wanted her sister to have the chance at an education. In any case, Great Aunt Hannah accepted and became one of the few women in the day to receive a four year college degree.  She studied Biology and became a high school biology teacher. 

Life for Hannah was an interesting one. She married a man who also taught school and was a businessman, and who later became the secretary of the state of Vermont for 20 years.  They had one son.  Great Aunt Hannah became blind late in life, learned braille and continued to live a full life despite her loss of sight. My Dad remembers during a visit, as she was settling in for the night she told Dad “Turn off the lights, I want to do some reading” which struck Dad funny.  He would say, after a hearty laugh, that she needed it good and dark so that the light wouldn’t distract from her reading braille. 

In 1991 my husband and I took a trip to Vermont, finding my Great Aunt’s home.  It was just what I expected.  Very typically New England looking.  She’d been gone 9 years by then.  It was nearing evening, and cold out.  We’d been driving a long time in search for the house.  With no one home at her old residence, we decided to knock on the house just next to hers. Standing on the porch in the chill, a tiny proper lady opened the door.  When we told her my Great Aunt Hannah had once lived in the house next door she quick put her hand to her mouth and gasp “Oh!  Hannah was my best friend!”  She told us all about the way she loved Hannah.  How Hannah had loved her roses, how she loved to write poetry.  The way she was very involved in their church, the way she was a wonderful friend to her.  We could hardly believe our good fortune in meeting Great Aunt Hannah’s neighbor and dear friend.  Years have come and gone since then.  We have found some beautiful pictures of her, and poetry she wrote.  Found notes about her by the people who had loved her. 

So many reasons Aunt Hannah should have never made it. Never survived.  Her big sister didn’t.  She folded under the weight of the trauma they all experienced, locked up at Ward Island State Hospital, pulled away from her little children, abandoned there to rot, waste away in the prime of her life alone, pass on alone, tossed into an unmarked grave on Hart Island where all Ward Island State Hospital patients decompose.  Aunt Hannah made it, even when her brother couldn’t – pistol to his head at age 17.  She not only made it, but made it big, living a life of learning, love, poetry, marriage, parenting, involved in church, neighbors, she lived a life alive.  She and Grandma were the little ones.  I wonder how much their older sister Esther and the oldest Moses protected the little girls from the hell of what they went through. I wonder how much Esther and Moses took on behalf of their little sisters.  Whatever happened, the two little girls lived and thrived and the oldest two died untimely and heart breaking deaths.   

I wonder sometimes if in God’s’ Heaven the four of them are there together, even with their Momma, maybe even their Papa.  I wonder if they are sorting it all out together.  In a land where everyone is important, where no-one is forgotten and thrown away.  Where love is all it takes to never loose the other.  I wonder.

Medical Prejudice Against Fat Women

Today I went to the Dr. and I realized for the first time how different I was being treated, and believe it is due to my current state of obesity.  In the past two years I’ve gained 30 lbs, mostly in my belly.  Since thyroid cancer I am heavy and tired and look the part of a frump. 

My husband went to the exact same walk-in day before.  He had same symptoms as I, completely drained of energy, weak, struggling to sleep and breathe.  I gave him the bug he was being evaluated for.  He’s 6’3”, a solid assuming sort.  With identical symptoms he returned home without ever having been given a chest x-ray, without the doctor hearing anything in his chest, no sign of the infection in his ears or face with the antibiotics needed to feel better within a few hours.  The inhaler, and another breathing aid. 

Next day hardly able to walk about the house, canceling my appointments as I couldn’t keep my eyes open and breathing shallow, Ted decided to take me to the doctor.  When I got there, they could see in a walking test that my breathing went down to 94.  The Dr. suggested an X-ray to my chest which I hesitated to have done as I have been through two cancers already and thought if we could do without another dose of radiation, I’d appreciate it. 

I left with a suggestion to return in a week if things don’t improve.  Its been 3 weeks already with two relapses.  I realized on way home that I was not taken seriously.  I’m think it’s because of my giant belly.  The fat on my body due to thyroid issues.  I walk 20 to 30 miles a week, and still have 30 lbs extra weight as my missing thyroid has messed with my life.  The prejudice was the first I’d felt in years. 

The last time I felt dismissed for being me was during a time we were building our house.  Hanging out at paint stores, places where trusses are designed, bolts are purchased, siding is ordered, a man’s world at that time had little space for a woman who was doing 90% of the buying for a housebuilding project.  Guys daily cut in front of me, the guy at the desk would look past me and ask to help the guy behind me.  When I finally got to the desk, I’d be ignored when asking for a part and was given what they thought I needed, only to have me hand back the part and ask once again for the correct part they said didn’t exist, only for them to find it and ring it up indignantly. 

I don’t like the feeling of prejudice.  To be a female in some places is uncomfortable.  To be a fat woman is almost unbearable.  Portly men, they are thought to be powerful and strong.  Not women.  I hope to shed this weight once I figure out how to be healthy without my thyroid, but I’m glad I’ve had a chance at experiencing what it’s like to be minimized and disrespected inside a body that won’t cooperate.  I don’t want to ever forget for the sake of others who are stuck in a body they can’t alter.

There was zero reason today why I was not treated and my husband was.  There is zero reason to take one person more seriously than another.  Except for prejudice.  It’s time to ask, when do I take others less seriously for no good reason?  I’m sure I do.  Growing curve, teach me more.  I want to be kinder and more respectful. 

I Collect Good Men – Oops… stories of:)

This past couple years disrespect of women has become more public than in the recent past.

The Stanford Rape Case – girl gets left like garbage out on on the ground and swim jock rapist get community service.

Bill Cosby – 60 women destroyed and he calling it “casual sex”, admits to using sedative hypnotic methaqualone with the women – admits knowing that giving it to another person is illegal, but won’t call it rape.

Mark Driscoll the lead pastor of Mars Hill is off’d his mountaintop for a variety of reasons – I’m sure his graphic sexualized prophecies and hyper-fixation on teaching women in the church to provide certain kinds of sex to headship husband lest they neglect their Christian wifely duty have added to the list of reasons why.

Seventh day Adventist Church:  Women’s Ordination.

Donald Trump.  Lets see, strip clubs, objectifying his own daughter.  Filth spoken to his buddies long ago, (‘We all do it’, quip the supporters.  No, many of us have never had thoughts like the words that came out of his mouth, or ever heard such words.  And needed a shower after hearing such words.  No, we don’t all act like that and talk like that.). Reports that he raped a 13 year old girl (read the reports. Yes she dropped charges after her life was threatened.  This was a group effort, the other man accused, Jeffrey Epstein, Trumps buddy, is a registered sex offender and payed the girl off for his part.) 

This is the year it became impossible to talk about the happenings in the news round the dinner table. The year we couldn’t have our kids involved in the election process as it became X-rated and revolting.  The year an old family entertainer we all love and who made us laugh was found to be too violent and grotesque in his secret life to be funny at all anymore. 

Today I ran across a short little video about a single Dad who started classes in his community to teach other Dad’s how to do their daughter’s hair.  This Dad says knowing how to care for his daughter’s hair became one of the challenges for him and as he figured out what to do, he decided to share what he learned with other Dads.  Thirty-four classes later and 800 plus guys through the program, he reminds the guys it’s not a gender thing  “Even a messy braid is still time spent together. It’s not about the braid, it’s about the bond”.

I ran across a story about a woman who went to her husband’s work because he had been working late.  She found him sound asleep in his chair, feet up on desk, holding a little two year old on his chest.  This man works for Child and Family Services, the baby had been taken, and was between placements.  A big kind-hearted guy sound asleep on duty, helping the little one during this terribly painful time of transition. 

There are the abusers.  The selfish.  The toxic and manipulative.  Liars and users.  There are monsters.  The types who say words with a smile, but words that cut holes in the souls of those around them.  There are people all about power over.  There are small types who have to talk filth to feel big.  Small ones who drive giant trucks, suck up gas and burn tires to prove how important they are.  The people who do not care the scars they carve into those who trust them.

And then there are the others.  Not perfect, and still day after day he goes to work, brings home all that he has been earned, rarely uses money just for himself.  The guy who grocery shops.  He cooks.  The one who still tell bedtime stories, he doesn’t do it all just right, but cares deeply for the people in  his life.  The guy who doesn’t spend his life angry because he is hamstrung by the old lady and a couple-a snot nosed dependents.  No, a guy who loves and adores his wife, still finds her hot despite the way they’ve both aged… the marks grooved deep into her being, stretched lines telling a story about their love and their love babies.  A guy who doesn’t want the plastic of porn.  It’s his wife he desires.  Not just her body, but her friendship.  

This year I hope to collect stories of respect given by men to women and women to men.  Men and women to children.  Not tales about why it’s so important for women to respect men and why women don’t need respect but love.  The church has contributed to the abuse by ideas that we have propagated.  The Bible is crammed packed with why respect and love are important for all.  Male headship, leading and following.  Balderdash.  He who is greatest must be servant of all.  Jesus, God himself, says he calls us FRIENDS.  Men and women are all in this together, we either all contribute to love or to destruction.  We all need each other.  I am collecting stories of mutual care and love given between equals.  Help me collect the stories. I look forward to each one. 

P.S.  Happy Birthday Adored Husband.  Thank you for the little ways you remind me every day that not all guys are like the horrific males who make the news.  The kids and I are blessed.