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

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.


I wouldn't say that I ever really knew my mother's mother. By that I mean I never knew who my grandmother really was--their real person behind the figure I knew as Mamas even though we visited her dutifully for two weeks every summer and every other Christmas or Thanksgiving, driving 500 miles each way.

Words I'd use to describe her would be imperious, regal, proud, or distant. This woman would never have been called Memaw, Nana, or even Grandma. Those words would not have fit her. As the only child usually around in her grand house, I understood that I was to be seen and not heard.

As an adult, I've come gathered some clues about why she might have been as I understood her to be back then. She was a woman who bore loss. Her second child died as a toddler, and while I could explain that as normal for the early 1900s, the photo she kept of her with Robert told a different story.

She must have been a patient woman as well because she waited for 9 years to marry my grandfather and was well into her 30's when she did so.