If my grandmother were still here, she’d be 93 today. December 7. Pearl Harbor Day. Her brother died at Pearl Harbor, and what I most remember about her birthday is her never wanting to celebrate it, not wanting to make it a “thing,” of her turning away from the TV set during Walter Cronkite’s voiceover, of her pacing around the house looking for her cigarettes and the look of relief when she found them, of course, in the pocket of her housecoat.
My grandmother has been gone for 20 years, and while I always remember her on December 7, it wasn’t until this morning that I looked up her birth year and realized she’d be 93 today.
This means I didn’t know she’d been 22 years old the day her brother died at Pearl Harbor. This means I didn’t know that her brother died the same year of her horrific car accident, the one that would disfigure her face.
I don’t have any photographs of her before that accident. I start counting photos and don’t get far. How few photos I have. Today I pulled this one out of an old album and, for the first time, flipped it over to see her handwriting on the back: 907 Sprigg St, Cape Girardeau, MO — Grandma and Teri — my sweetheart, you were a doll.
My sweetheart? That isn’t how she talked, yet there it is, in her handwriting, in blue ink. “A doll” is underlined, twice.
I do the math and realize she is, in this photo, exactly the age I am today. We even have the same haircut.
Happy birthday, Anna Josephine Brockmire. I’m sorry about your brother. Thanks for the note.