Gran had her HAT on. This was her Sunday-go-to-meeting hat. This was her no nonsense, really important stuff is up hat. Along with her hat, there were the shoes. The last time she wore the HAT and the SHOES was to attend Gramp’s funeral. I remember sitting next to her at the funeral parlor, squirming in my seat and staring down at those hob-nail, lace up, Daisy Duck, black leather instruments of torture that swallowed her feet well past her ankles. She could have walked through fire with those shoes and not turned a blister. The hat resembled an old bicycle rim that someone had run over twisting it into an odd elliptical shape that sat unevenly on her head. Here and there were uneven clumps of plastic fruit punctuated with random feathers and drapes of lace. That hat was so ugly Gramp could have hung it in the corn to keep the crows away. He didn’t though, because he was gone now.
“I’ll be going out for a while, ” she said, pausing at the door.
“Where ya goin Gran?” I asked nervously.
“It is time I learned to drive,” she said primly and walked out the door.
I ran to the window where I could see the black behemoth out in the drive. The Studebaker hadn’t moved since Gramp died, but somehow it seemed to be waiting, eager for an adventure. Gran got in behind the wheel and closed the door. She sat motionless for an eternity staring out the windshield. I heard the familiar rumble as the car started. Suddenly, there was a horrifying grinding noise and the car lurched forward about ten feet then shuddered to a halt. The quiet was deafening. Then the engine coughed back to life, and with another metallic shriek juddered down the evergreen lined drive humping spasmodically for a while then roaring down the few remaining feet, crossed the road, coming to a careening rest on top of the neighbor’s wood pile. All four tires were off the ground spinning slowly as the car rocked gently back and forth, teetering on the logs. Smoke rolled out from under the hood which now was open slightly as if gasping for air. Gran climbed down gingerly, straightened her hat at a jaunty angle and started back toward the house in her best casual stroll. I met her breathlessly at the door, bursting with 100 things to say and no way to say them. Before I could gather my wits she said, “That’s enough for today I think, let’s have some tea.”