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

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Tutu: It Means "Old Woman" in Hawaiian

I call my maternal grandmother, "Tutu," it means "old woman in Hawaiian. Which is ironic because She was 30 years younger than my paternal grandmother. I called her Grandma. I saw Tutu 4 days ago on my way back home to Birmingham from Chicago. I wasn't going to stop. But a freak accident that probably involved a bit of liquor landed my grandfather "Bompa" in the hospital with pea gravel embedded in his face, a few fractured ribs, broken nose, and a severely bruised ego. Tutu has been bed ridden for over 5 years. A mother of four in a giant 100 year old Victorian home was thrown from her show jumping horse and broke her back. She was in her early 30s and became addicted prescription pain medication. Married to a local well to do man, the doctors in town never denied Tutu her pain medication. These men were the first of Tutu's long list of enablers. Five years ago Tutu fell, broke her hip and landed in a nursing home where she developed an infection in her intestines. She lost colon and ended up with a colonoscopy bag. Horrified by her lack of rectum, Tutu never left the house again. Somehow she still got her pills. Three years ago my Great Aunt Sue face-timed Tutu on my wedding. My wife and I stood awkwardly on old mansion front porch steps trying to force a smile as Tutu waved and slurred. She did not face-time my cousin at his wedding last summer. Last week when I saw Tutu I sat in the reading room where her hospital bed is set up and listened to her talk about Hoya flowers and how they are often called, "the funeral flower."

Simple Days

Sally King