Daredevil is not a name I would pin to my grandma. Her soft, white, beehive hair and modest floral print dress put her in the same league as Tweety bird's infamous caretaker, Granny. Looney Tunes armed their granny with a cane and a little yellow bird to protect whereas my grandma clenched her Bible and relied on its author to keep her children from harms way.
Grandma lived in a high rise apartment building in South Louisville. She kept her place picture perfect. The constant aroma of Lemon Fresh Pledge gave clues to her favorite past time. I think her plan was not to wipe the dust off, but to beat the dust to the furniture. I'm not sure of this but I think she even had all the carpet fibers pointing in the same direction.
One morning in early December she took a little trip over to my Dad's, three miles down the road. Judging by the frequent running of her heat unit she thought she should dress a little warmer. She went to her closet and pulled out her full length mauve wool coat, two scarves, and a pair of white driving gloves with fur around the wrists.
She carefully unfolded the first scarf; it was so delicate that if it fell out of her hand it would take a good three minutes to ever hit the floor. This one was the one that held the white curls in perfect form before the bulkier second scarf was applied.
When her hands were free from tying precision knots under her chin, she climbed into her wool coat and proceeded to secure each oversized button into its allocated slot. She picked up her gloves, purse and keys to begin her journey into the city.
When the elevator opened up to the first floor she knew she made the right decision to dress warmly. She slid her white gloves on and walked briskly to the car. She noticed that even through the wool gloves she could still feel the door locks sluggish reaction to the key. It was cold. She met the same resistance in the ignition but it fired up anyway and purred as the defrosters did their job on the windshield.
It took a little longer to warm up and Grandma was starting to think maybe she should get going anyway so she wouldn't miss my dad before he left for work. So she eased out of the parking lot as if gentleness at the wheel would somehow compensate for the slight lack of visibility through the frost on the windshield.
There were only two streets where she had to watch for cars. The main drag had traffic lights which were much easier to see. Amazingly the lights were turning green before she got to them. The last one however, decided to turn yellow and, ever so quickly, red before she reached it. This is when a new discovery was made. Evidently there was a little precipitation on the road that had taken an indistinguishable solid form inside the pavement. Brakes had no effect on this stuff.
I have known my grandma to pray two types of prayers. One type I like to call the "Dear Lord" prayer. It's the one she starts every night before bed. This one is prayed with a soft, breathy, peaceful voice. The other prayer is what I like to call the "Oh Lord" prayer. This one is prayed much more quickly and with a lot more enthusiasm.
I have seen proof of these prayers actually working. The "Dear Lord" prayers are more long term type prayers; the ones that have kept all the grandchildren alive and out of prison. I have seen the results of "Oh Lord" prayers on occasions like the time I set the field on fire behind my aunt's house and the fire bypassed the house and made a perfect circle around the new swing set next to it.
This was no exception. The same God that parted the water of the Red Sea for Moses also parted the traffic of Dixie Highway for Grandma.
Not without a twist though.
Before she had time to even get scared the car went into a spin. The back end of that car whipped around in a way that could not be upstaged by any Tilt-a-Whirl at any county fair. A stunt driver wouldn't dream of doing this without a helmet. My grandma did it with nothing more than soft white curls re-enforced with Final-Net hairspray and two flimsy scarves.
When the car stopped spinning, it was pointed straight into the road she needed to turn on anyway. She gave it some gas, with traction this time, and made her way to Dad's drive.
Dad heard her pull into the drive and met her at the back door. He noticed something different about her. For one thing there were a few bobby pins hanging by a couple of hairs here and there off the side of her head. And her beehive was kind of tilted to the side. But the biggest difference was her walk; it was more like a strut.
The look on her face took the cake; eyes wide open, her mouth wore a kind of sideways, stiff lipped, smirk. It was almost as if she was transformed. In three short miles this sweet little Tweety loving Granny turned into Granny Clampet of the Beverly Hillbillies.
"Mom, are you alright?" asked Dad.
"Well Son, I was on my way here and I got into some ice. I tried to stop and it started going sideways. It spun around and around and around, then I almost lost control."
Copyright © 2010 Ray Owen
This is a true story I wrote about my grandma. She was the living picture of faith to me. This story was a good crosscut of her life. The whole world could be spinning out of control around her, but her faith kept her at the wheel, a little worn, but holding on knowing she would see it through. My name is Ray Owen, a carpenter/writer who likes to make things with wood and words.
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