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

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.


My maternal grandmother had Parkinson's Disease from the time I was first conscious of her, when she moved to live near us in Wichita after my grandfather died. She was in her 50s, which we now understand is not old! But she seemed ancient with the shaking, the shuffling, the trouble finding words. She would give me a nickle to take to Dockum's Drugstore on the corner to buy some candy every time I visited. Her white. clapboard house was a block from my grade school. I liked to visit. She wasn't a ton of fun but she seemed to like me.

In First Grade my mother took her mother to New York City for an operation to help calm the tremors. When they came back Grandma's head was shaved and there were quarter-sized indents in her skull where they had removed pieces of her skull to tinker with her neural pathways. It helped the tremors, but she was much older after the operation. Still she kept it together long enough to live in her house until I was in junior high. The care homes went from nice to not nice to bad as the cost of nursing home care rose. The last place was a horror show.

Visiting Grandma was unspeakably sad. She died right after I graduated from college. A tiny, pile of skin and bones. Everyone said it was best. She was 72.

I wore a uniform for a decade

My father's mother was a Christian Scientist