She had a love affair with cigarettes.
My whole life I remember her quitting, starting up again, quitting, smoking, quitting, sneaking them behind the house and then the whole cycle would start again.
At seventy-four, she still smoked.
But let me tell you something about her.
For some reason, when my grandmother put that light to her mouth, it looked sexy. She looked glamarous. Pouty. In control. Intelligent. Purposely coy. Oh, I hated it, the smell, the sickness it caused her, the ashes.....but I knew, also, how much she loved them.
Did I mention the wigs?
One morning I got up early - around 5:30 am - to have breakfast with my grandparents before Papa went off to the furniture plant. Eggs, bacon, homemade biscuits, jam, orange juice and ashes.
In her coffee cup.
She never seemed to notice. They just dropped in there and she kept drinking. I kid you not. I was busy saving her from choking by pouring her coffee down the sink and bringing her a fresh cup of black, the way she liked it. I never said a word. I'd sit the cup down in front of her and she'd light up another and the whole cycle would start again - still having "adult" conversations with my grandfather about what was in the newspaper - a cigarette dangling from her lips and the ashes growing inches and inches long before they fell.
I'm shocked she never set the paper on fire.
That wasn't the only shock I got that morning.
Not only was she doctoring the java with an endless supply of carcinogenic flavor but her hair was gone!
Oh yes. I forgot to tell you about the wigs.
On little mannequin heads all over the bedroom. I should have known she didn't sleep in them but still....my little pencil head wasn't prepared to see such a sight. "I look a fright!" she said.
In hindsight, of course, I know she was right. (sorry, grandmother) But at the time I was fascinated with all the long strands I'd never seen before. I loved her dark hair. But she didn't. Hence, the endless supply of meticulously coiffed heads that scared me in the middle of the night. To a little girl, she looked positively witchy in the mornings.
Inspired by a post at Fish's place.
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