By Ellen Coffey

How I loved my Aunt B. She was a strong woman. She had a saying “trust your gut.”

She figured whatever the situation, she was able to reason and trust her gut when making decisions.

My high school friend, Jane and I spent a few summer weeks in Florence with Aunt B and Uncle Alton. I knew Aunt B had a good life, wonderful husband, great home, brand new car.

I also knew she’d never even finished school. She often referred to me as her daughter. So Jane and I asked her questions about girls getting a college education. Back then more and more girls were feeling the need of college before marriage. But more than a few of our own classmates were already engaged before finishing high school.

We sat sipping sweet tea at a picnic table under the huge moss covered trees in her well manicured back yard. She shared how she never had the chance to attend high school; she helped save the small family farm, that had already shrunk during the depression and as the oldest living child of Grandma Hattie how she searched for work. and planned to send all her money home. Why? So her younger siblings could remain in school, and graduate from high school. My mom was the first in the family to finish High School. Aunt B remained faithful until the last sibling received a High School Diploma. Jane stared at Aunt B, who was still a striking red head blushed as she added modestly, “Ive been told I might have had a different career if I’d been willing to move up North. True I didn’t always have the answers.”

She laughed and continued, “I’d heard about employment in a néw job market in Raleigh, North Carolina.” (telephone operators).

She drank a sip of Sweet tea.

“I took a long look at my country girl self in the mirror and thought, ‘Maybe if I bob my long hair, shorten my skirts? Hmmm, I can land a good job. With Gods help.’” and that’s exactly what Aunt B did.

Because of her faithfulness, and her devotion to family, she continued to follow her gut feeling. She had proved following her gut feeling brought personal success too. She was active in the Royal Order of the Eastern Star: women who represent the Devine on earth. (I should know more about this organization). She was also the local garden club chapter leader. Still, while living a very busy life, making decisions that trickled down, not only to her siblings, but to their children. Grandma Hattie raised strong women. Aunt B helped to influence another generation. I may not have had all the answers over the years either. But I’ve learned, too sometimes you have to trust your gut.

I now have granddaughters who are strong women. Maybe they can agree. It’s a pleasure to have grown up trusting in themselves while influenced by strong women, Y’all.