insisted that my cousin, a tiny fair-skinned naturally blond child with blue eyes
looked like Shirley Temple.
She insisted my cousin was talented and special in all things requiring God given gifts like singing and dancing and being charming.
I was not tiny or fair-skinned or blond.
I did not have blue eyes.
I was told my hair looked like a rat’s nest because it was dark and long and usually messy and that my skin was ‘muddy’ and that I had a ‘grating voice’.
But my Dad’s mother did offer me a bit of constructive advice.
She advised me to develop some kind of talent and to work on my personality because I concluded by the unkind smirk on her face, that was my only hope at not being a total piece of human wreckage.
I can’t tell you how successful I was, but I’m an okay writer and I’m great with dogs and I’m not afraid to take a punch and my best talent is that I can roll my eyes up into my head and I have no feeling in part of my face so I can stick pins in there and not feel a thing.
Combined with the eye rolling thing, it’s pretty spectacular.
As to my talented Shirley Temple look a like cousin, I have no idea how far her natural God-given talents took her.
She made it clear she wanted nothing to do with my Grandmother or the rest of her immediate family after her Mother died. Trust me she had her reasons and I don’t begrudge her that. She moved away in her twenties and never looked back.
I, on the other hand was there just before Grandmother died.
Me and my rat’s nest hair and ‘muddy yellow skin’.
I wonder if she was disappointed that my face being one of the last she saw and not one that belonged on a Christmas card.
It’s not one of the questions that I wonder about and it certainly doesn’t torture me because