by Heidi Nestor, Writer and Editor, Life Alert

The harp holding cherub flew in suspended animation over the porch.  Hiding in the top corner of the front door was Cupid with his arrow firmly aimed at anyone who entered this domain.  Everyone who passed the Victorian house that stood at the end of the street knew it was time for Granny’s annual St. Valentine’s Day festivities.


Granny loved this special day of celebrating love, mostly because she and the other women in town would volunteer their services by bringing food and supplies to the needy, with the day ending at the retirement home where the ladies put on 19th Century romantic comedy skits while wearing outrageous bustle skirts.  Granny’s favorite part of the day was going to the retirement home; it served as a reminder of how fortunate she was to still be able to live in her home.  Naturally, she had help in the form of Life Alert or as Granny would call it, “My magic button.” She would tell everyone that once she pressed her magic button, hunky men in uniforms would suddenly appear to help her.

Life Alert's Grateful Granny and the Valentine Bustle.


Granny’s Victorian house was the perfect setting for the ladies to gather annually for their bustle skirt contest before heading out into the town to do their good deeds.  Each year the women would try to outdo each other by seeing who could wear the most outrageous, puffiest, bustle skirt.  The winner would wear a papier-mâché crown while the other’s paid for her lunch.


This year Granny knew the Best Bustle crown would be hers.  She had been saving fabric all year to layer and drape the bustle cage, and even enlisted her grandchildren to come over and start building the skirt days before. 


St. Valentine’s Day arrived and Granny very carefully climbed into her large, inflated, structured skirt.  Looking at herself in the mirror, the rear of the skirt stuck out a good four feet, which made Granny tilt slightly forward.  She could see how her balance was compromised so she took each step carefully and made sure to wear her Life Alert emergency pendant. Thinking twice, she even checked her purse to ensure her Life Alert emergency HELP phone was in her pocketbook, just in case she lost her balance while out and about she could call for help.


The ladies started to arrive at Granny’s Victorian House.  Each wore ballooned bottomed bustles and laughter erupted when the group tried to walk around or sit.  They chatted about how they had made the ruffled layered skirts and wondered how their ancestors could possibly have worn these contraptions daily. It wasn’t long before they heard a yell from outside.




The women tried to run to the door but their multi-layered skirts would not permit them to move swiftly. After fumbling over each other, the bustled group finally made it to the door.  Standing outside was a very wide, very fluffy, very ruffled, super colossal, bustle skirt and corset that balanced the tiny head of Fannie McFarlane.


“I can’t move,” Fannie cried. “Help me!”  Fannie’s blue eyes turned to gray, and the women wondered if their color had drained due to the weight of the skirt, which happened to be wider than the door frame.  As the women gathered around Fannie they realized there was no end to the skirt – for its train went on for well over 12 feet.


“Fannie, what were you thinking by building this monstrosity?” Granny asked in amazement.

“I was thinking that the Best Bustle crown would me mine this year.” She said proudly.


The women rolled up her train and maneuvered her sideways the best that they could, but her bustle butt puffed out so far that squeezing her through the door required some of the women to go inside and pull on Fannie’s arm while the other women on the other side pushed her through. They pushed and pulled squeezing Fannie through the door as if they were squeezing a watermelon through a straw.


“Exhale” Granny yelled.  “Get all the air out of your body.”

“I already did,” snapped Fannie.

“You wouldn’t be in this predicament if you weren’t so darn competitive,” Granny retorted.

“You’re just jealous that I’m gonna win the Best Bustle crown.” Fannie smugly replied.


After what seemed all day, the women finally gave up and told Fannie to wait outside for the group.  But alas, Fannie could not move, she was stuck in the middle of the door frame.  Now the women inside started pushing Fannie out but she didn’t move.  Her skirt was firmly wedged in.


“Get me out of here.” Fannie pleaded.

“We can’t.” said Granny. “But I know someone who can.”  Granny pressed her Life Alert pendant.  When the Life Alert dispatcher called, Granny assured him that she was fine but that someone in her home needed help.  Granny wasn’t sure how to explain the situation so the dispatcher said that the fire department was on the way.  Granny added, “Tell them to bring the Jaws of Life.”


In a short time, three strong firemen arrived and Fannie was freed from the door frame.  All the ladies were impressed with Granny’s “Magic Button” while Granny praised all that Life Alert does for her. She went on to exclaim that she can live safely and independently as long as she has Life Alert’s protection, and that they have saved her many times from a fall, house fire, and even a time when CO Gas was in her home and Granny never knew it.


The bustled bunch made it to the retirement home just in time to put on their play.  Later on at lunch, Fannie mentioned how happy she was that Life Alert got her out of a tight situation as she sat proudly with Best Bustle crown on her head.


“You look like royalty.” Granny complimented.

“I may look like royalty,” Fannie said.  “But you’re treated like royalty by Life Alert.

Granny explained, “It only cost pennies a day, and I feel safe and protected.”   All the women wanted to know more, so Granny gave them the number 1-800-380-0768 to call for a free brochure so they can take control over their independence if ever they get stuck.

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