For a girl who played junior high football and spent half her time in high school covered in cow you-know-what, lipstick is a surprisingly large part of my routine.

When I was younger, I loved going to Grandma’s house. She lived in the perfect spot in the country with draws (dry creeks), winding cattle trails, and cottonwood trees ideal for climbing. Of course Grandma made everything better with walking trips, chocolate chip Mickey Mouse pancakes, and the occasional trip into town for groceries and ice cream.

Gram never wore much makeup when I knew her, but every time before we’d leave for town, she’d reach atop the fridge where she kept a tube of bright red lipstick. While looking in the hallway mirror, she’d smear some on, rub her lips together, blot it with a paper towel, and give herself a little smile before walking out the door.

That’s one of the things I miss about my grandma. That quiet confidence that had her secure enough in her appearance to leave herself bare but the woman in her who felt beautiful with ruby red lips.

It’s been more than two years since she passed away. More than two years since she’s treated me at Dairy Queen. More than two years since I bent her ear for advice on a two-hour long phone call.

Some days I miss Gram more than others. Like when I see a turning leaf and remember fall was her favorite season with all the yellows and oranges it brings with it. Or when I think about the time she told me her middle initial stood for “Dingbat” and I believed her. (It was actually Dorothy.)

I’m not great at dealing with greif, and I haven’t discovered a cure-all that makes me feel instantly better. But on days when I’m missing her, I pull out a tube of lipstick, smear it on, blot it with a Kleenex, and give myself a little smile knowing I’ll see her again someday.

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