Tuesday, May 20, 2008


My Aunt Libby, her name was Lillian but I couldn't pronounce that so we called her Libby, was born in 1927. She was the 8th living child of my grandparents, Harry and Katie Miller. Libby was born with a cleft palate. They called it a "hair lip". She was unable to suck like other babies and had to be hand fed with a spoon very carefully so that she would not choke.
She was an oddity, a curiosity to some and she was stared at from the beginning of her life.
Libby had her first surgery to correct her cleft at around the age of two. She eventually had several surgeries until it was fully corrected. Of course, medical science was not as advanced then as it is today and Libby was left with a large scar above her lip and a serious speech impediment.
But Libby was an over comer. She conquered most of her speech problem and grew to become a striking beauty. She never complained or even mentioned that she'd ever had problems as a child.
One day in 2006 I was taking her to see her doctor. We left her house and drove passed where the old Dunbar High School used to be. Libby pointed to a field across the street and said, "When I was small there were boys who lived in that house and they used to play ball in the field. When I walked home from school I would have to pass by them and they made fun of me and the way I talked. They called me "hair lip" and terrible names. They mimicked me and laughed at me."
As she spoke the words stabbed into my heart. I looked over at my sweet 79 year old aunt and tears were running down her cheeks. Those words were spoken 70 years ago and the pain that they inflicted was still there.
Mother Teresa once said "Harsh words may be short but their echos are endless."

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