[dropcap]S[/dropcap]he was a stunning young woman who smoked Chesterfields. She smoked them so much she paralyzed one of her vocal cords. It dropped her voice a full octave. Whenever she answered the phone, people responded by saying, “Hello, sir.”
She grew up rural, and believed in God. Her mother was prickly as a bag of roofing tacks, her father full-blooded Sioux. And by some stroke of fate, her daddy was born with English blue eyes. No one suspected he was Indian until a few days after he died, when his squaw mother attended his funeral – in full tribal dress.
In those days, girls went to USO dances. Young women dawned their church dresses, and drew ink lines up the backs of their thighs; the farm-girl version of nylon stockings. She snagged a husband at one of those dances, a captain with a toothy smile.
The petite frame that God gave her weighed in at a-buck-five, sopping wet. Her bones so small she could’ve passed for a Cornish hen. She was quiet, people described her as wistful – and she loved that word. If you were fortunate enough to know her, you’d learn she loved books, and plowed through them like pecans. She was also a professional portrait painter, a published poet, a fry-pan cook, an oyster fanatic, a college graduate, a Red Cross worker, and one hell of a Lutheran.
Her five children grew up to bless her as a saint. And the day my grandmother died, she tapped two fingers against her lips and mouthed,“Chesterfield.” She said it only twice.
And then she met God.