Christina L'Angell despised her mother.
She came from an old clan, the L'Angelles, who had centuries-old roots in France. They were a family of long tradition - the menfolk were preachers in times of peace, soldiers in times of war. The women were brood mares, whose main job was to give birth to the next generation of L'Angelles.
Christina wasn't about to fulfill her role in the family, so she escaped. She ran from their plantation, Angelville, and went west, towards Texas. She met some people who were willing to take her where she needed to go, and who were also more than happy to try and get her on their side as peace activists. They were fervently against the Vietnam war, and it was easy to get this lost, somewhat naive young girl on their side.
So, when Private John Custer of the U.S. Marine Corps stopped to ask her where he might find his bus, she spat in his face and called him a baby-killer. She thought it was what she was supposed to do.
Her friends leapt to her defense, even though the big Marine hadn't made any kind of move against her. They shouted epithets at him, and he just walked away.
Christina, for all that her new friends were clapping her on the back, felt terrible about what she'd done, and went after John. She found him in a bar. Without words, she apologized, and without words, he forgave her.
They talked for a long time after that - about why people do hurtful things, and why they should be forgiven, and within an hour of meeting each other, they were in love.
For the first time since leaving Angelville, Christina felt safe. She wanted to tell John everything about where she had come from, but never seemed to find the time.
The time would find her, however.
They had a baby boy about a year and a half later, and named him Jesse. Though they hadn't married, they lived together with their son, and felt that they were as happy as could be. That happiness was shattered, however, by the arrival of two familiar faces: Jody and T.C., two workers from her mother's estate, and her two top henchmen. They had been sent to track her down and bring her back.
John tried to fight them, but Christina knew it wouldn't work. She thought her lover was going to die, but when they found out that Jesse was his son, they brought the three of them back to Angelville.
There, Christina's grandmother, Marie L'Angell, laid down the conditions of his survival. They would marry, and they would raise Jesse to be a man of god. If they should try to escape, John would surely die.
A year later, they did try to escape, but they were caught. John Custer was shot in the head in front of his son. Christina was brought back to raise little Jesse.
She taught him as best she could - Bible study, English, math, history - but her heart had left her when her husband had died. The next few years were comparatively peaceful. Until Jesse went in the coffin.
Marie L'Angell had heard Jesse use profanity in reaction to the murder of his dog. As punishment, he was to be put into The Coffin - a casket that was weighted to the bottom of the swamp, with an air hose going to the surface. It is possible that Christina had spent some time in the coffin in her youth, because she stood her ground against her mother. She said that Jesse would go into the coffin over her dead body, and at that point, her mother just did the math.
Jesse had been born. The next generation was viable, and Christina didn't look to be willing to have a child by another man. Therefore, she was no longer of value. Jody took Christina out to the swamp to shoot her. Before he could get his shot off, however, she attacked him. The bullet grazed her head, and she fell into the water. As far as everyone at Angelville knew, Christina Custer was dead.
While Christina hadn't been killed, she had been seriously wounded by Jody's shot. She wandered through the swamp in a daze, and was attacked by a large alligator, who took her left arm. She was rescued by a group of hunters and taken to a hospital. She had no memory of her past, of her time at Angelville, or her name. All they had to go by was the name she was shouting as the alligator took her arm - "Jody!" So they gave her that. With a spelling change, she was now Jodie.
Jodie spent years in the hospital, being cared for by the state, but she was eventually released. She was taken to the bus station and left there. Fortunately for her, one of the pieces of her past was there with her - young Lorie Bobbs.
Lorie was the sister of Jesse's best friend, Billy-Bob Bobbs. Jodie didn't know who the girl was, and Lorie didn't recognize her, but Lorie reached out to this poor woman and took her in. She helped her readjust to life outside the hospital, and eventually the two of them moved to the town of Salvation, Texas. Jodie opened a bar and grill, and Lorie handled the business end of things.
From time to time, Jodie would get a flash of memory - her son, the coffin, Jody - and she would head east, try to find Jesse. But then she would forget again, and find herself in a strange place with no idea why she was there. This happened several times, until finally she decided to stop trying. She decided that, whatever was in her past, she was Jodie now, and that was it. The episodes became less frequent after that.
Jodie was a fixture of Salvation, with her bar and grill being the town's main watering hole. She had a flirtatious relationship with Gunther Hahn, a German who had moved to the US after World War 2, and was generally comfortable with her life. Then, one day, a tall, handsome and familiar-looking young man came to Salvation. He saved Lorie Bobbs from some toughs, didn't take nonsense from any of the locals, but was well-spoken and kindly. His name was Jesse Custer, though that didn't ring any bells.
Not until he called her "Mom."
At that point, the memories fell into place. Everything came back to her - Angelville, her husband, her son. She was Christina Custer again.
She helped Jesse rally the town against Odin Quincannon, the evil meat merchant who had Salvation in his grasp, and found that he was just like his father. When he left, she gave him the one thing of John's that she had always kept: his Congressional Medal of Honor.
Christina Custer said goodbye to her son, knowing that he had a hard road to walk. But she knew in her heart that she would see him again.