It was Christmas morning 1992. The sun had been up for a full 10 minutes. I peered through the archway leading into the living room and gazed at the beautiful, shiny, colorfull boxes and bags under the tree. I knew I wasn’t to enter the lving room until my parent got out of bed.
Then the phone rang. It was my chance to bend this rule. In my socks, I walked quickly across the cold, stone floor. The presents’ pull of my vision a constant temptation. I stepped up onto the ledge into the kitchen and picked up the phone: “Hello”
“Hello, ma’am. This is Sheriff Jordan Schmidt. Is Mr. Force available?”
Being confused as a woman when speaking to strangers on the phone was a common inconvenience of my 8-year-old life. I told the sheriff with a sigh, “Hang on.”
I opened my parents’ bedroom door and my father rolled over to see me. “Dad, there is a sheriff on the phone.”
Dad picked up the phone by their bed and I listened by the door. After Dad spent a few moments on the phone, I knew by his tone we would not be opening presents right away. I returned to my bedroom and waited. Mom came in a few moments later and explained Grandma had had an accident.
As Grandpa explained it to the adults in my world, he had awoken in the middle of the night to find Grandma’s side of the bed empty. He didn’t realize something was amiss until the next morning.
My aunt expressed the perspective that his story was “complete bullshit”. Apparently, two hunters had found Grandma’s body in the wooded area near our house. There was much conversation in the following days regarding Grandma’s money. This man, my grandfather, was not my biological grandfather. My father’s father had died when I was very young. But I trusted Grandpa. He had never mislead me in the past. One afternoon, outside the courthouse where my father and his two sisters waged a court case against my grandfather, Grandpa told me he knew we all knew the story was a lie. The truth was, he told me, as they made their walk back from our house Christmas-eve, Grandma was run over by a reindeer.