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

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

My Yankee Grandmother

Here’s what I know about my father’s mother. She had a high forehead and a cowlick on the left side of her head, which I inherited. She had seven children. The third child died when he was a toddler. A pathological fear of raisins was passed down to rest of the children even though raisins had nothing to do with his death.

My grandmother’s father was an Irish immigrant who was an abusive drunk. He passed out on the railroad tracks and was run over by a train. Her mother was a Scottish immigrant who had a boarding house. I have the bell they used to call the guests to dinner.

Family lore claims that my grandmother was the first female telegraph operator in Pennsylvania. She met my grandfather, also a telegraph operator, when they dot, dot, dotted and dashed into each other. Perhaps they had the first cyper space meet up?

She was a terrible cook, and she was deaf. The family would make bad jokes about her cooking in front of her. “Don’t eat the green beans, they’ll kill you,” my Uncle Paul said under his breath as he smiled and nodded at his mother.

She would fiddle constantly with her hearing aid control—a lavaliere device she wore around her neck. My mother said that you never knew if she was tuning you in or out. When I fiddle with my hearing aid app on my smart phone, I appreciate her attempts to clarify sound.

She was a yankee. My mother could never quite forgive her for that.

Sally King

Grand Mothers