An enduring memory of my mother was her sheer authority.
She literally packed a pistol.
As a deputy sheriff for Los Angeles County, she carried a purse that had a built-in holster for her gun.
One day, she clearly and deliberately gathered all four of us girls to instruct us on The Gun Rules.
She pointed to the top shelf of her bedroom closet and let us know that was where she placed her purse when she was home.
She would remove the bullets from the gun first.
She stood on a chair, lifting aloft her black bag, and stowed the purse.
We were forbidden from playing with her purse, but she still wanted us to know where it would be kept.
We then piled into the station wagon and set off for the next lesson: Bullets are fast. Guns are loud.
My mother passed around wads of cotton balls, and, with four children in tow, ears stuffed with cotton, we joined the line of cops at the gun range.
Our mum started shooting.
All I remember is the assault to my ears: the cotton served poor protection against the percussion of the bullets’ volleys.
We rode home in silence, awed by the power of the guns.
And in awe of our mother who, we were certain, feared nothing.