Growing up, we were surrounded by women...

Growing up, we were surrounded by women who did not miss a trick. They saw through walls, saw the wayward hand in the cookie jar, steadied us before we stumbled, heard the lie before it left the lips, felt our sadness even before our own heart acknowledged it.

And said what needed to be said.

How did they do it? We searched for the source of their power. Was it in some talisman they kept in their closet or dresser drawers? In some herb kept high on a cupboard shelf? Did it spring from the prayers they said and the candles they lighted, without fail, every week in church?

"Forza, " our father would say.

When pressed, he would only shrug. "Maggiore . They're the helpers of God. Listen to them."

They made sense of our young dreams, coaxed the beautiful from the mundane, told us our fortunes, sang songs and taught us, always, to be unafraid of the truth.

The Wims, an all-woman improvisational theater troupe, will perform at the Church in Ocean Park, 235 Hill St., Santa Monica, at 8 p.m. Friday, Admission is $5. For information call (213) 399-1631.

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