Rose-Covered Glasses, Margaret Wright
My Grandmother’s diary entry for September 8, 1943 reads:
“Italy surrendered. Permed my hair.”
Growing up, I spent most of my time with her, our houses only seventeen steps apart. I’d lay on the floor looking out of her picture window and she’d teach me which birds you wanted at your birdfeeder (bluebirds) and which you absolutely didn’t (blue jays). She baked cookies with Crisco, made applesauce when anyone was sick, and never wrote down every step in her recipes. She never said anything against anyone but instead mastered the subtle eye-roll.
She went to every one of my dad’s swim meets and, later, every one of mine, never failing to express amazement at our achievements. “I swam in college,” she told me once, “but my coach said I didn’t have the competitive fire.”
Later, we learned she’d held a national record.
By the time she died she was one of the people I knew best, and yet, flipping through her diaries, I clearly knew very little. I knew the grandmother who’d been a stay-at-home mother of six and loved any random science facts I could bring home, not the woman with a degree in biochemistry who had to keep rejecting persistent job offers.
When I think about my grandmother, I often get stuck on hollow cheeks and tight hospital corners.
Brief as they are, her diaries keep me from losing the little of her I have left. When my mind gets stuck in the ending they remind me of well-worn storybooks, muffins eaten bottom up, and sponge cake mischievously hidden in the drier. They bring the middle back to life.
Without her five-word summaries I wouldn’t know that she raised my aunts in student housing, that she nearly chased a bear from the yard, that the first time my grandfather proposed she turned him down.
I wouldn’t know that on the day Italy surrendered, she permed her hair.
About the Author
Jessica Crooker · University of Vermont
Jessica Crooker graduated from the University of Vermont in May, 2020 with a BS in Biological Science and a BA in English. She is excited to soon be entering an MD/PhD program. “In Brevity” was originally published in The Gist.
About the Artist
Margaret Wright · Christian Brothers University
Margaret Wright is a Visual Arts major at Christian Brothers University with a concentration in Graphic Design. Although she loves and studies design, Margaret has a soft spot for experimental and traditional art mediums. She hails from Memphis, TN and has had a passion for painting, crafting, and writing from a very young age. Wright finds nature and people as the inspiration for many of her works. This piece first appeared in Castings.