Doing The Math

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.

Grandma Ann and baby Teri 1965 - Version 2

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.

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24 thoughts on “Doing The Math

    1. Teri

      And story left out of this story: one of her favorite songs was “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree,” which we often danced to ….. in JULY! Ha!

  1. Erika Marks

    Oh those precious mary janes, perfectly snug over those red tights! There’s a lot of doting love in that gaze. Pictures really can take our breath away. So glad you have this one.

  2. Lyra

    The look on her face…oy, the look, pure determination, “You, doll, will make things different. You will make them better.”
    And you have, and you do.
    Beautiful love.

  3. tedstrutz

    My, what a wonderful gift to find. “My Sweetheart”… that’s how she talked to her little ‘doll’. Lovely photo to have, and a lovely remembrance.

  4. Downith

    Adorable. Your little fur-trimmed hood. And your grandmother looks like a strong don’t mess with me woman – like her grand-daughter.)

  5. Josephine

    i’m not sure if i’ve mentioned it before, but these posts–the ones that are prompted by photos about your family–are my absolute favorite of yours. you can FEEL what you’re reading, you know? they’ve got that thing. (they also make me want to beg to read you WIP…and brainstorm titles for it…something to do with photographs because they seem like the real thing that gets your mojo going. at least, from this angle.)

    I know that grandma-grand-daughter relationship. most any memory i have of myself pre-grade school are with my grandmother. right now, typing this, i see myself sitting on the floor between the couch and coffee table coloring with my tin of crayons and whatever coloring book she bought me that day and her in her lazy boy with the stand-up ashtray right beside her. (wood pedestal, copper or tin ashtray insert that had a mechanism that opened from the bottom for ashes to fall from sight.)

    1. Teri Post author

      Careful what you wish for. I need to send my opening chapter to a few beta readers —- you’re on my list. (ok, you were on my list before this comment, but still ….)

  6. macdougalstreetbaby

    That’s huge, to discover her accident occurred the same year her brother died. Seems like too much grief for one person to have to deal with, especially at such an early age.

    I can’t stop looking at her hands, the way one is resting on your little tummy while the other is delicately perched underneath. I imagine you gave her a lot of happiness.

    Happy belated birthday.

    1. Teri

      When my mother used to say, “Grandma had a hard life,” I had no idea what that really meant. I’m guessing i still don’t really know.

  7. independentclause

    I love her hands.
    I always think of my grandmother on Pearl Harbor Day because, for some reason I thought it was her birthday. (I just looked it up, though, and it is Dec. 20.) Anyway, she would have been 136 this year. She died in 1986, and I didn’t know her very well. But she was also full, full of love.

    1. Teri

      Strange happenings, Laura. This picture has been firmly in place — stuck — in that old album for years. Who knew there was anything written on the back??

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