Those who have read the series of books by Alexander McCall Smith starting with the The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, and who just might have seen the series on HBO, will be familiar with Mme Precious Ramotswe, the lady detective. Mme Ramotswe is a “traditionally built” woman. What this means is that she is not some skinny little thing. She has some flesh on her bones.
My mother and father and my sister and I have enjoyed those books very much, and I was so happy that I was able to videotape the HBO series and take it to them to watch. And as it happened, we were watching one of the tapes when my sister arrived to take me home with her for a slumber party and then a minute or two later we heard voices in the front yard and realized that the women from next door were coming to pay a visit.
These sisters arrived in the neighborhood as little girls some 30 years ago, when the Mr J and Brenda moved in next door to our house. There were 5 girls in the family, and these two were the youngest. The baby, Renee is the same age as our son...
Somewhere in a photo album, probably back in Los Angeles, is a photograph of her and our boy when they were about 4 years old: one very black child, and one very white child are standing together on the grass. Renee is a high school basketball coach. After living out on her own for a while, she and her adopted daughter moved back home to make ends meet.
Her sister, Coonie – that is what they called her, honest; but her real name is Laranda – is a school principal.
She is married and has three sons. My folks went to her wedding. Coonie has seen some sorrow. Her youngest child, a a baby girl with Down syndrome, died several weeks ago. Coonie is a presence when she walks into the room. She is nearly 6 feet tall, and is.... well, traditionally built. No one is going to walk over her. My mom doesn’t think she has any trouble controlling the students in her school.
In the early years, when they were little girls, they came over to my folks’ house often, for band aids and to borrow cups of sugar and butter and flour. My mother and father treated them with love and kindness. Coonie says, “It’s hard to see her like this, because she is like a Grandma to me...”