She was the bravest person I know.
We were in awe of her job as a deputy sheriff for the County of Los Angeles, and, as her photo attests, she cut a figure in her uniform.
One day she took all four of us girls to the shooting range.
Her plan was to scare us to death so we’d never touch her pistol.
Her purse had a built-in holster for her gun, but when she was at home she placed the weapon on the top shelf of her closet, out of reach.
She showed us where it was, rather than hiding it.
I want you to know where it is, but you may never touch it.
We were frightened of it.
My mother became a cop after my pop was diagnosed with a brain tumor.
The job helped make ends meet with four small girls at home.
My grandmother shouldered a hunk of the burden by living with us–from time to time while my grandfather acted out or sobered up–buying shoes and coats with money from her Indian tribal allotment.
Granny tempered the house rules, stuffing treats into our lunch boxes even though we weren’t allowed candy.
I was surrounded by girls and women.
My mother’s friends were other deputies, rod-straight in their olive green uniforms who would relax on weekends, smoking menthol cigarettes and drinking cocktails.
They’d joke in a darkened living room while the kids listened to records and played Monopoly.
I’d overhear their conversations about men, punctuated with throaty chuckles that escaped my logic.
These women were brave, spending their days riding herd on criminals, their nights in ribald companionship.