In Granny’s latter years, we’d sit at her kitchen table as night fell upon the mountains. There, in those hallowed moments, she unlocked the chambers of her large heart and granted me her most precious joys and sorrows.
She spoke of her two newborn sons Grandpa buried within a year of each other.
“When I see’d the second baby’s diaper soaked in blood, I knew Paul wasn’t borned for this life.”
Once, long after midnight, I dared ask Granny about Aunt Sarah. As a child, I’d overheard my mother speak in hushed tones about Aunt Sarah to her cousin Ada.
“I’ll never forgive myself for leaving home and sister Sarah,” Mom said.
Decades later, my granny wiped her tears with a dish towel and solved the mystery.
“I’ll never forget my phone call to your mommy in Kansas City. I had to tell her that her only sister died.”
Before daybreak, my grandmother knitted me into her confidence and life. Unawares, she anointed me with her mantle of the storyteller.
My mother and granny didn’t write Sarah’s story. My folk are oral historians, not writers. Other than a few miraculously preserved letters and birthday cards, they left this world without leaving handwritten evidence of their love and remarkable achievements.
If someone didn’t tell it, no one would know my granny once said, “Now don’t skin my cake,” when a granddaughter swiped a finger of frosting off the top layer. One of my favorite Grannyisms.
No one would know the joy she carried in her 250 pounds if someone didn’t tell it.
Thus, my quest to speak on behalf of my people lest the times and places in which they lived be forgotten.
I see this calling clear as the fragrant white stars of Sweet Autumn Clematis blooming in my perennial island. I see my circuitous path to Borders stores, libraries, and women’s groups where strangers dared pour forth their stories on paper.
I see the day I followed Catherine Minolli into her office where she hired me to freelance. Years later, after my departure from the Tri-City Times to fulfill another calling, Catherine welcomed me back.
By her column, I know Catherine’s father loved his daughters and motorcycle– her mother dressed her for Easter as my mother dressed me.
I relate to Catherine’s tenacious love for her Italian heritage, and admire her grace and integrity in the loss of her parents.
Her little piece of paradise with pond and ducks are embedded in my imagination. She’s a friend and mentor, encouraged my professional growth and adventures in the publication industry.
It’s sad to arrive at the week of Catherine’s retirement. My regard for her editorial leadership runs deep.
Dear Catherine, it’s time to let you go to fulfill another calling. Please accept my heartfelt gratitude for the chance to tell stories to your readers.
I’ll be listening for your voice—your poetry and other literary works as you devote your resources to the benefits of practicing yoga.
You’re a writer, before and after all.
Email Iris at