Dreary mornings like these, I find myself thinking of her.
Fog saddled up against the shanty boat, nestling it softly into the Ohio River.
Her kin were too poor to own a land home. Four generations of us born at these docks.
Pap was the kind of man who drank potion to help him sleep but always woke up tired. He worked the hoot owl shift at the steel mill. He was an absent man. A soot covered ghost wondering to and from the boat throughout the week. He would lean down and place a kiss on my forehead, leaving the scent of teaberry gum and whiskey.
Gigi was a mysterious woman. At dawn, her silhouette could be seen rocking gently by the wood stove. The skunky scent of morning coffee percolating over the fire. Her long grey hair dancing around her wool coat in the crisp morning wind. With a wave she would send us off to the riverbank to collect fish from last nights netting. Pushing over frozen knot weed, snapping the long bamboo like stalks as we worked.
A mother of nine. They never had enough for everyone. There was never enough fish or morning eggs. Hand-me-down clothes and county pins with holes. It was as though she was born old, but not in the way of beauty. Old in the way that healers often are.
At dusk we would hear her whispering to a stranger on the deck. Like clockwork, they always came. We could hear the cards being shuffled on the tin table, the suits telling of fate or luck. She was known as a foreteller, a seeress, the tarot reader.
Gigi had a way with the outcasts. The river gypsies. She was a friend to the wives of the miners, mill workers, and factory men. Too poor to move ahead, too faithful to give up. She helped them to sew hope and a new meaning to their story. A story that was personal, much like her own. A story that was grey in comparison to those on the other side of town.