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This undated photo of the Tindell family reveals that Lula Tindell (second from right), my great-grandmother's first cousin, was what I call a diminutive diva. If you look closely--pardon the blur-- you can see that she's standing on something

When your height literally makes you stick out like a sore thumb among your family members– go ahead, look at your hand. . . my parents and siblings are the fingers; I’m the thumb– inevitably, questions arise. Stupid questions, random questions, invasive questions, none-of-your-damn-business questions. . . you name it, it’s been asked. Puzzled strangers have queried me, desperately trying to identify the source of the short gene.

A little shaking of the family tree has led me to believe that my great-grandmother, Mamie Gilley Nance, bequeathed her height to me. A few of my older cousins have remarked that she was a small woman. Her cousin Lula Tindell, is also remembered as being very petite, which she referenced while a senior at Tuskegee Institute in 1922.

This page is from a 1922 yearbook from Tuskegee Institute. Lula Tindell, one of my great-grandmother's first cousins, writes that her ambition is to be tall. Her entry is the fourth from the top.

In fact, when I asked my aunt about her memories of “Cousin Lula,” the first thing she mentioned was that she was “very petite.”

“She kind of reminded me of you in that way,” my aunt said.

At left is my younger sister, who has a good six inches on me...