Grandma C

Fancy was curled up on the living room couch, doing nothing, not even reading the Us Weekly that lay spread out on her lap.

“That photo of your Grandma Cookie is totally creeping me out,” she said, staring at the ornate picture frame prominently displayed on the bookshelf.

I stopped eating my Taco Bell long enough to look up at the photo and the young girl’s absolutely static face.

“Well, I love it. It’s my favorite in the whole house.”

Fance groaned and shuddered, hiding her face. “She’s staring right at me!”

I brushed a few crumbs off my shirt and smiled wryly. “Oh yeah, I see it now. She’s looking right at you, through the shadows and across time.”

“You might as well add a photo of a kid being threatened by a hungry wolf next to it!” she continued.

“All this coming from a girl who’s also afraid of pencils.”

Fance pressed her fingertips together, forming a steepled point. “Girl, pencils are scary.”

I looked straight into my grandmother’s eyes. “I don’t see scary. I see battle-tested, resilient, intellectually formidable – fierce.”

I have no doubt that my grandmother’s expression directly related to her internalization of the Great Depression.

At the time, the United States was full of families like hers. Families whom poverty had forced into a life of wandering from one tenement house to another eking out a living as cotton share-croppers.

If she looked a little hard, it’s because she had to be to make it.  And she did.

She was a dark-haired beauty who graduated Valedictorian of her high school class, got a college scholarship, played women’s basketball, taught math, chemistry, and physics, married my grandfather (her biggest achievement, if you ask him), raised two children, and started ranching when she and my grandfather “weren’t ready to retire.”

I’ve personally seen her take a kick from a horse, shrug off injuries that would have left me blubbering, fire day laborers because they couldn’t build a barbed-wire fence as fast as she could, throw a wrench at my grandfather (she missed), drive a tractor in 105 degree heat, and stay up all night nursing young calves back to health.

And because she’s nobly self-sacrificing for those she loves, we weren’t surprised to find out that her 4th great-grandfather was handpicked to be General George Washington’s personal bodyguard.

“Yeah,” I sighed, nodding to the photo. “You won’t find her in Hello Kitty jammies.”

“No,” Fancy replied. “I’ll find her reaching out from beneath my bed to steal my soul.”

“She’s not scary,” I said with conviction. “She’s awe-inspiring . . . and one tough Cookie.”

Although, she was born on Halloween.

[No grandfathers were harmed in the making of this blog.]