I spent a great deal of my time with Aunt Sis, who seems to have always been old. She knew how to plant and how to build a fire. She had once been known as the wildest and most beautiful woman in Leslie County, Ky. She was blunt and hard to please. Sis loved to wear red dresses and red lipstick. Her coal-black hair was always styled, even after long hours in the yarn factory that left her hands bloody with thin cuts. I grew up right next door to her, and everyone said I was “her pick.” She didn’t bother to deny it. “Little Man is my baby,” she always said, even when I was into my 40s.
Sis challenged my notions of what it meant to be elderly. Sis loved the most current music. She cussed. She took me to concerts and sneaked me into R-rated movies. Sometimes she and I danced in her living room to the latest Bob Seger record. “He’s my favorite!” she’d yell while she snapped her fingers, every part of her moving. “Turn it up, Little Man!”
– The New York Times