Category Great Depression

The Ring That Returned

I thought we’d run out of stories, but I was wrong. I should have realized that anyone who’s been on this earth for 95 years, as my grandmother has, will always have one more story somewhere inside. This time, it was the ring that raised the story. I was visiting my grandmother at her assisted […]

Genetic Vanity

I peeked through the bathroom doorway, observing my son Sage meticulously applying “product” to his hair and lovingly combing each gel-coated strand. I knew better than to speak; any interruption of his intense preening would result in a shrill and eloquent reprimand. I had trouble biting my tongue, though, when I had a sudden revelation: […]

Naomi’s Independence Day

Originally posted on Naomi's Story:
Naomi on the cusp of independence Naomi and her brothers had always been close, but when their mother’s death left them rattling around their ramshackle house, underemployed and always scrabbling for money, they realized that destiny called them elsewhere. Her brothers went their separate ways—Jimmy to join the Navy,…

Of Bait and Banks

A growing awareness of mortality, the first-time sense that she’s OLD, and most of all, the failing eyesight that banishes her from the books she loves: All of these weights are combining to sink my 93-year-old grandmother’s spirits. She was home alone most of the day yesterday, her solitude only interrupted by a visit from […]

Planting the Mulberry Tree

Yesterday brought an event I’ve long anticipated: The Planting of Grandma’s Mulberry Tree. I’d been dreaming of that moment since I ordered the tree in November. Grandma had grown up with a mulberry tree that supported and nourished her. (I wrote about her bond with it in my posting “The Mulberry Tree.”) I’d envisioned the […]

Naomi’s mother: Mattie Bertha Rawlings

Mattie was born in Prince George’s County, Virginia, on Jan. 1, 1884. She was an only child; her mother died giving birth to her. She was raised by an African-American Mammy on a tobacco farm there. She contracted tuberculosis when she was young; Naomi believes she was exposed to it by her Mammy, who in […]