Saturday, April 12, 2014

Saturday #15

It was 1980, and Brooke Shields was everywhere--ads, movies, billboards.

It was 1980, and Jenny Tucker was almost eleven years old. Our family was at the annual Tucker reunion camp out, and my cousin LaNay and I were busy collecting rocks, sticks, and flowers to create monuments to our secret crushes at the deserted campsite next to ours. Other than writing these perfect boys' names in the dirt with a squirt bottle, I remember little of this reunion--aside from one conversation I had with Grandma Tucker.

Grandma was a well-kept woman. She always had her hair done perfectly, always wore a brooch and lipstick and lace-up oxfords with her panty hose, and always smelled of fancy powder from the puff on her vanity table.

During this particular weekend, I remember sitting close to her as she told me, for the umpteenth time, how much Grandpa Tucker would have loved all of these beautiful little girls running around everywhere. (My grandpa was killed in a car accident in 1959, leaving behind his wife and five sons ages seventeen to three.) I had heard her say this exact thing so many times that Grandpa seemed real to me, like he really would have hugged me and loved me if he had been there.

What came from her lips next is forever etched in my brain.

"Always love your thick eyebrows, Jenny. Look at Brooke Shields. She is the most beautiful woman in the world, and she has thick eyebrows, just like you. Never pluck them. Always love them. They are beautiful."

And with that, I was off to refill my squirt bottle to write "Michael" in the dirt one more time.

I never forgot that my grandma thought my eyebrows were beautiful. My Tucker eyebrows--the ones I had inherited from a phantom grandfather with a crooked smile, who would have loved me unconditionally, just because I was his.

I held off shaping my brows till late in my life (as my wedding album and driver's license picture from 1995 attest), but every time I pick up the tweezers even now, I think of that moment and memory. I think of a loving grandmother who with a single conversation permanently changed my perspective of myself, and forever linked me to the grandfather whose features I bear and whose blood I share.

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