this is not necessarily my story but it is the story of the women in my family particularly my mother and grandmother. i've found that these women's stories have compressed and solidified to become my own...
in fifth grade my mother went to take care of my grandmother. i got real excited. hopefully this meant a trip to Arkansas because i didn't really think that Grandma Idella could get sick- maybe a cold or something but not sick sick, or going to the hospital sick. probably just missing your daughter sick. i figured that i would probably be going too.
my mother snuck away while i was at school. and she stayed gone for a long time. long enough for me to need training bras, and maxi pads. i got my first perm too. then she called to say she was coming home and that no i could not see Grandma Idella because she was dead and could i please be a big girl 'cause she needed that right now... for two whole weeks i hated her because i hated thinking that my grandmother was killed and here i was thinking she had a cold. i didn't want to see her dead i wanted to see her alive - baking pies, chopping onions, shooing flies, keeping granpa from eating so much cake on account of his sugar. i hated, hated, hated her. then she came home baldheaded - not all over just at the top. she looked like a refugee. and really she had been at war. she and my grandmother fighting hard against the cancer. it won. it murdered my Idella and took my mother's hair hostage.