At least that’s what everyone thought. Every day the kids at school would gather around and ask for her mother’s autograph and every day she would have to explain, yet again, that her mother wasn’t Cher.
It was fun, to pretend her mother was someone else and that her life was bigger and better than a cramped trailer sitting on someone else’s property on the edge of an orange grove.
But the truth was, strangely, sweeter than her imaginary life. She never had new clothes or fancy toys.
She ate things like “crap on a shingle” and 18 different varieties of “let’s see what’s in the fridge” casserole. Every October her mother would bring home the JC Penney toy catalogue, hand her a permanent marker and tell her to make her wishlist for Christmas. And every December 25th, she would receive, one toy from her wishlist and the few toys her parents could afford through carefully and meticulously saving box tops and wrappers and UPC codes to send in for some special offer. She never really understood that it was un-cool to wear a Kool-Aid hat or snuggle a stuffed pea pod from the Del Monte vegetable company, not that it really mattered.
She knew how hard her father worked; how long he was away from the house, how tired and ragged he seemed as he trudged though the door of the trailer late at night. She knew his smell – cigarettes and sweat - and she knew she would always remember how he looked as he came through that door the night of the explosion. She had nearly lost him that night. She could hardly recognize him now, half of his face burned and disfigured. In that moment she knew, more than any other moment, just how sweet her reality really was and how she would not…could not trade it.