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“A Tapestry of Stories”

Crazy Woman Creek: Women Rewrite the American West

ed Linda M Hasselstrom, Gaydell Collier, and Nancy Curtis, Mariner Books, 2004

        Oh, Patty the Pounder, I thought, remembering how I had laughed when I described her to my husband at supper that evening. I had lunched with Ethel one May afternoon at the assisted living facility, my mother’s new home following a string of serious health problems. Although Ethel’s name had escaped me, I remembered how she sat across the table, a small woman whose spine had settled so deeply into her hips that her face was level with the tabletop, her pinched nose at the table’s edge. Her hair was permed in pencil-thin curls and tinted a curious shade many elderly women favor, not quite beige or pink, like the last leaf clinging to the branch of a November cottonwood.  Ethel stared for several minutes at her coffee cup before she raised a gnarled, speckled hand and reached across the polka-dot oilcloth for her coffee. She brought the cup to her lips in a precise motion, more like a salute really, placed the cup back on its saucer, and then began to pound the table, still staring straight ahead.

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