Nobody in the congregation could imagine her not moving. Doris had always moved — as if made of rubber or as if a bouncy spirit had inhabited her.
People remembered her swaying across the gymnasium floor during the church’s centennial celebration. She was dancing to My Girl by the Temptations and all the other songs on the DJ’s playlist, all the way up until the finale of Sister Sledge’s We Are Family. People recalled her lips moving while singing, plump with rouge lipstick and her eyes going all expressive. But now they were still, and her lips looked buttoned and had a cinnamon tone that you could barely even notice.
The outfit on her — the one that the undertakers had dressed her in for her open-casket wake — did not do her justice, either. It was a blue and grey number that Doris would actually never go for.
No — Doris was a person who wore loud, tasteful outfits and a wide variety of sophisticated wigs, invariably cut in short and sassy styles. She also made the effort of going around town, exerting herself to find a pair of over-the-counter glasses that would match a particular outfit of hers to the nines.
I once saw her in a bright red pair of readers — red as habanero — to match the pants, scarf and thick stripes on her white shirt. On this particular day, the church was having an open house. It was right around the holiday season.
Regardless of the occasion, Doris always wore a different eye-catching ensemble — one that made her look like she was getting ready to take the stage in some sort of musical performance.
In fact, Doris sung to the world uninhibitedly in all the shows that the church would put on as fundraisers. But despite how she tirelessly bore witness to Jesus through music, if you were close enough to her, you knew that she had always wondered whether she would actually get into heaven, being as she often fell to temptation and sinned. (These are her words.)
Doris was a crazy lady when she lost her temper. She was a fighting type if you provoked her enough, and she was plenty fierce to stand up to any man, regardless of how tall he was or how large his hands were.
When she got mad, her expression went deadpan, and her eyes locked onto you. You wouldn’t know what she was thinking. Even when you thought the confrontation was over, you’d still find her staring at you with mean eyes, 20 or 30 minutes after the fact.
Typically, she’d give you a piece of her mind, point-blank, and then you’d be on her shit list for a time. But it never wound up being for very long because Doris was the kind of person who would start smiling your way again and giving you a cordial greeting.