Personal Musings

Her Name Was Daisy and Her Laugh Was Her Smile

Her full name was Alice Daisy Tuck Pillow. Nearly everyone called her Daisy, though some called her Punks, a nickname she earned in youth. She was the first ‘punk’ in the family, long before I sported my first mohawk at Christmas Eve dinner in the late 1990s.

Most of my first cousins called her Nana. My sister and I called her Granny Pillow. Nana never stuck for us, for what ever the reason. I followed my sister’s lead. To my dad, she was Mama.

She laughed the way others smiled. Her laugh was her smile. And over the course of my life, I was never in her presence when that laugh of hers didn’t come out at least once. It was like she always had the giggles. Sometimes it was a slightly nervous laugh, but mostly it was because she was tickled. It was her trademark.

She was my dad’s mom. Her disposition reserved and sweet. And although I may be a tad bias, she was honestly one of the nicest people I’ve ever known in my life. My friend Josh Holt’s grandmother, Thelma, was much the same way.

She was, to put it plainly: a good person.

After Christmas Eve service, we always made our way to her and my Papa’s house in Old Well. What I remember about those nights in December from childhood were how the adults would all gather around the big table in the dining room and laugh and cackle while us kiddos sat at the card table in the adjacent room.

It was usually about something that happened during hunting season or at Old Well Grocery, the store they owned and operated over the course of their life — like the time my grandpa threw a hatchet into the side of a robber’s car who’d stuck him up at the register and then fled. When the police asked him what the car looked like, he said, “It’s the one with the hatchet in the passenger side door.”

At a certain point, the conversation would switch to car racing, specifically Jeff Gordon.

We didn’t get a lot of gifts at the Pillow house for Christmas. I always liked that. It was about being in each other’s company and telling stories.

But one gift I always received each year from Granny and Papa was a sketchbook. I tried to draw Granny this morning. It may be a hatchet job — pun intended — but I feel like I captured her smile at least a little. But what you need to understand about that smile again was that it always came with a laugh. A giggle to be more exact.

Her name was Alice. Her name was Daisy. Her name was Punks. Nana. Granny. Mama. And the world, and the tiny town known as Old Well, Virginia, was a better place for ninety-five years because of her.

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