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In More Ways Than One

By Margaret BrennanPublished 7 months ago 5 min read


In More Ways Than One

* *

As per her daily routine, my grandmother was in our apartment for her daily injection of insulin. I was playing in my room but instinctively knew she was there. I had decided to finish the chapter I’d been reading, then head to the kitchen to enjoy some tea with my grandmother. My brother and I had already outgrown the “little kid” toys that still sat in the old hassock my father had built years before. My brother, now wanted to do nothing else but concentrate on learning his guitar. He had turned eleven years old that past February and my ninth birthday was soon approaching. By now, I had a baby sister who wasn’t quite a year old.

I was becoming a bit frustrated trying to finish that chapter since I kept hearing my mother and grandmother whispering.

“She’s becoming more like you, Mom. I’m getting at my wits end.”

My grandmother stifled a laugh as she said, “I don’t know why you’re so surprised. I warned you. You know the adage: The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. She’s only nine but will continue to say some pretty bizarre things.”

“Mom, you know she lacks the ability to draw. It’s just not in her. Poetry and storytelling? Piece of cake. But art? Just doesn’t happen, but she will doodle. She loves to pretend she can draw. For heaven’s sake. If she could grab a pen or pencil while she’s in the bathroom, I swear, she’d doodle on her underwear!”

“Well, Mary, at least she’s not scribbling on the walls. You can wash her underwear and no will see them anyway. Keep encouraging her.”

“Mom, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. True, she has no talent for detailed artwork but when she doodles her little faces, I know in my heart, I’m going to see that face soon. Just the other day, I’d taken her, Mary, and Frankie to the park. He wanted to ride his bike and she wanted to sit in the sun and draw. I thought for sure, she’d be trying to draw trees and flowers! Nope! Faces. As I said, there was hardly any detail but as soon as she’d finish a face, a person who could have been her drawing would walk by. She’s beginning to scare me a bit."

"Hmm," my grandmother said. “Maybe you should look into an art school. See if any are nearby. Maybe she needs to develop that hidden talent.”

“I doubt that would work. You remember when I enrolled her in dance class? She has such a beautiful sense of rhythm but when she’s in a hurry, she’ll just race through whatever she’s doing. She also finds ways to distract herself. The dance instructor volunteered to refund my tuition and asked me not to bring her back. And yet, when I have the radio on, she’ll dance around the house as if her little legs could go all night.”

* *

I finally finished my chapter, knowing that I might have to reread it since I heard the entire conversation between my mother and grandmother louder than I should have. I put the book on the TV stand and walked to the kitchen. Mom asked if I’d like some tea, mentioning that my grandmother brought some personal-sized apple pies. She didn’t have to ask twice.

My grandmother hugged me and became stone still when I said, “Nanna, I know I look like you, but I have hair just like Aunt Lily. She said you need to brush my hair more and that I need to hug you more because you look so sad.”

As I gave my grandmother a more lengthy hug, she asked how I knew about her sister’s hair.

“She told me. She said that her hair was a wee bit darker, but the curls were the same. She said she misses you but will always be around for you to talk to.” At that time, I hadn’t known that my grandmother’s sister had died three years earlier.

My grandmother asked who else I’d been speaking to, and I became melancholy. “Great grandmother came to see me but didn’t say anything. She stroked my hair as if I were a tiny kitten, then turned away and left. She looked sad, too.”

“Oh, and she said, I need to write about her and Uncle Tom.”

My grandmother’s head jerked up quickly as she said, “How do you know about Uncle Tom?”

“Nanny, when you lived in England, you always set a place at the table for him. He’s not really your uncle. He’s your father but everyone always called him Uncle Tom. He thought that was funny. He said, when I get older, I’ll love the sea as much as he did.”

I saw my mother put her hand on my grandmother’s shoulder. Nanna reached up and grabbed her hand and held it tightly.

The two women had gotten suddenly quiet.

“Nanna, Mommy, did I say something wrong? What did I do this time?” Part of me felt unnecessary tears building up behind my eyes threatening to push out. Another part of me wanted to get angry and yell out, “What did I do?”

I did neither. All I did was stand there, in my mom’s kitchen, looking as dumbfounded as they probably felt.

The kettle began to whistle, and mom turned to pour the water in the old clay pot where she’d already placed the tea leaves.

My grandmother asked me gently, “Is there anything else you need to tell us?”

“Mom? Great Grandmother said to tell you thank you for giving me her name. She feels very honored.”

Honored? Was that even a word that was commonly known to my nine-year-old brain?

Maybe it could have been, but at the time, it felt just right.

I looked at my grandmother and said hesitantly, “I don’t know. All Great grandmother said was to never forget June 23, 1965. But she wouldn’t say anything else about it. Do you know what that means?”

“Child,” my grandmother said, “this is 1956. That’s nine years away. It could mean anything.”

Neither my mother nor my grandmother knew. At the time, neither did I. Yet, I’d understand a few years later and once I knew, decided to keep that date and the event to myself.


About the Creator

Margaret Brennan

I am a 77-year old grandmother who loves to write, fish, and grab my camera to capture the beautiful scenery I see around me.

My husband and I found our paradise in Punta Gorda Florida where the weather always keeps us guessing.

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Comments (3)

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  • JBaz6 months ago

    This is clever writing, the sublet hints and well placed wording. A very nice story.

  • Alisa İnnokate7 months ago

    This story brilliantly portrays a young child's connection to her family's history through a series of subtle and mysterious messages. It's a touching exploration of generational ties and hidden family secrets.

  • Kendall Defoe 7 months ago

    A beautiful and moving tale. Thank you for sharing!

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