birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

I Knew Her! And, Not.

Lizzie was her name—my grandmother. I know nothing of her history—not a thing. I didn’t know til now that I knew not a thing. I mean I know her!

And, I know nothing of her before me.

Well, I know that she was married to a man, and then later, after he died, to his brother. I know she had 11 children, all of whom made it to adulthood. I know she was born in Fresno and never left there. That is all I know. I don’t know if she had siblings; I never knew her parents. I don’t know what schooling she had, nor her churching. I don’t know if she had dreams, though I suspect they were unfulfilled.

I do know she was fierce—grumpy and opinionated, bossy to a fault. I do know her sons cowered when she growled. And, her daughters pushed back—meekly (how can that be?) It comes as a bit of a shock to me—how little I know about this massive presence!

She was little, and mighty. She was crippled, and strong. She was a reckoning, and of no account.

She was short and very round—eleven children will do that to a gal. She had one short leg and wore a shoe with a five-inch metal lift. I don’t even know how that happened.

And, when I was about eight she was in a bad car accident with my aunt and uncle—broken hips and legs that took ages to mend.

My father was the eldest, so it fell to him (and to us) to take care of her recovery. She came to stay—and shared my room and my bed. Every night for months I watched with fascination as the shoe came off and the withered leg settled next to mine.

Bastardizing the Truth

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