Oh! Well, we met when she rescued me from them damn Pineans, actually. Makes an impression, that kind of thing, I tell you what. I’d been stuck in one of their camps, oh, four, five months, I guess, me and the rest of the folks too broke or unimportant to ransom out, and all of us just sick as dogs with the crappy food and the lousy beds and the one crapper for forty of us, when she comes tearassin’ over the fence on a motorcycle with the pee ays in hot pursuit, all sweat and gunpowder. Most beautiful thing I ever did see. Wasn’t a one of us, man or woman, who didn’t love her frantically then, and more so after we actually busted out, three weeks of mud and trees and holding your breath till it HURT until we’d slipped back into our own sweet trenches. Bone dry of bullets by that point, and out of tabacoo, worst of all, and oh but she was fierce, kicking us until we moved, shoving us down in the mud when their buzzwings got too close.
Like I said, wasn’t a one of us who wouldn’t’ve burned the world to a cinder for her. It just stuck with me a bit longer than the rest, I guess, though looking around here today I wouldn’t make too many bets on that. No, no, it’s okay. Can’t be jealous of that kind of thing, can you? Well. Lucky, I guess, to have had these last forty years. You all know her cee vee, or should do, all the years she spent tellin’ you who she was and what she’d done, all the years tellin’ you who you were and what you could do…
Sorry. I’m sorry. Hang on a second.
Okay. Well, like I was sayin’, you can’t be jealous of that kind of thing. She was too big for it, too big for me, honestly, but you had to at least try to keep up as best you could. She could be a mean sonovabitch about it, if you weren’t trying; I ain’t saying she wasn’t hard to live with, sometimes. I’m not sayin’ that. It’s important to remember that, too. There’re gonna be a lot of people up here after me tellin’ you about what she did, and how much poorer we are for… for…
I’m sorry. Sorry.
…how much poorer we are… for losing her… but, you know, she was a mean ol’ cuss, and she wouldn’t want people to forget that, either. You gotta be mean, sometimes, to get things done. But you gotta be kind, too.
Anyway, I guess that’s all I wanted to say. Thank you for coming. It wouldn’t’ve maybe meant so much to her — she never needed that kind of thing — but it means a lot to us. Thank you. Thank you.