I used to snuggle on her knees and rest my head on her ample chest, my hand patting the loose soft flesh under her chin. I knew by heart all the lines on her face, from the deep grooves on her forehead running parallel to her eyebrows to the laugh lines and the finer wrinkles crossing her cheeks. Her eyes once black, bordered by still long and thick lashes, are now lighter as if softened by age, their almond shape unchanged. She had been a beauty. When us, her grandchildren watched her comb her hair letting it flow from a tight bun down to her waist, we would catch a glimpse of how she looked in her younger years. She laughed her easy cascading laugh when I called her the green haired lady because of the highlights in her white hair once jet-black.
Sometimes, after her domestic tasks of cooking, sewing and taking care of us were over, she would sit on a chair in the kitchen, her hands crossed on her lap. Her eyes would look far away, beyond the open window, beyond the field crushed by the afternoon heat, all the way into her past. She would look lost in her memories of past glories or maybe past heartbreaks, looking like a humble queen with her heavy gold earrings and long chain holding a medal of the Virgin Mary. I would know to stay silent, happy to study her beloved face, knowing that as long as my Bonne-Maman lived I would be loved and safe.