Nickole Brown

The Bingo Hall

Elizabeth Oakes' Grandmother Anna Flora

My grandmother, Anna Flora, was born in 1875, married at 40, had my mother in 1915, and died in 1966. Seventy when I was born, she always was old to me. She was 5 feet tall, if that, and by the time I, who grew tall, was 12, she could stand under my arm. Her life was limited; I doubt that she was ever more than 100 miles away from where she was born. Nevertheless, she, who had never heard the word feminist, taught me what one was, long before I heard the word myself. Most of all, I remember... Read more.

Anna Knowles' Grandmother

I can tell you that her name is Marilyn and she was born and raised in Louisville in a small house between Churchill Downs and the L&N tracks. She's been married twice. Both marriages were bad. At one point she was dating two men who she referred to as 'big richard' and 'little richard'. Once, she drank half a bottle of fireball, gave my sister and I the other half and in the morning, pulled us aside to ask if she drank the whole thing. She was and continues to be a livewire. She usually... Read more.

Anthony Larry's Grandma Lillie

Who is this short, old woman claiming to have raised my mother? The first time I stayed with Lillie Mae Jackson, I was either four or five and ignorant of the grandmother concept. I began to study her. She had my nostrils and my complexion. Her voice was light sandpaper brushing my eardrums. The next test was of her cooking. After making PB&J sandwiches, I stopped her mid-slice terrified of a horizontal half. She smiled and set the knife diagonally before saying, "Who you think taught yo... Read more.

Sudasi Clement's Mom-mom

Photograph, June 1929 The Carter Family had a hit that summer with I’m Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes. The ranch hands sang it to their pretty cook, her eyes blue as Colorado sky. At the chorus they’d change the lyrics to she—…and I wonder if she ever thinks of me... The cook is eighteen, sporting dungarees and a western shirt. No side-saddle ride for this girl. She’s in the meadow above Aunt Laura’s Cripple Creek Ranch, clasping an armful of wildflowers that will sweeten the table of... Read more.

Kerri Horine's Grandmother

Alma Sanders Horine My grandmother wore a bonnet every day when she took a bus to work at the Toad Stool Inn. She cooked fried chicken in a hot kitchen until the morning she died. This was a good death, which happened while she slept in her small apartment free of any fuss from her children or grandchildren. She had too many children with a man who was too many years her senior; however, as one of these was my own father, I can’t complain. Before she died she wanted to show me how to take the... Read more.

Cynthia Arrieu-King's Parisian Grandmother

My Parisian grandmother had four husbands, worked for the UN, walked along volcanoes in Hawaii, wore a mink stole, and studied Sufism. She once showed up to breakfast in a blonde wig, and another time, when a customs officer wanted to confiscate her bottles of wine, she said, oh no, bring us some glasses, and poured out all the wine for her fellow passengers waiting in line, saying to everyone, "No way he's getting my wine.". She smoked, drank, and ate whatever she wanted and lived to be 88.... Read more.

Karla Huston's Gram Goldie

Cheated out of a sassy grandmother and cheeky mother, too. Neither was ribald or crazy. Neither offered much advice—funny nor otherwise—though my grandmother often said "aught, aught" when she measured rags for rugs, yards counted nose to finger and sorted into piles on the cold basement floor. That's what I remember, the cold, the basement, violets blooming under white lights and windows like half closed eyes. My mother wasn't wild, either, preferring aprons and goulash suppers which could... Read more.

Seth Pennington writes about his Grandmother Nellie Mae

She was losing her husband. Pronounced barren. Pronounced soon-to-be divorced. Nellie Mae drove to the adoption agency, picked out a boy and a girl, while her husband Leonard sold groceries. He came home to a tableful of family, sat down to sweet tea off the stove and Salisbury steak, and stayed. When Nellie turned 49, her ankles swelled with her belly as she carried the life of my mother. This is something she would never call accident but God-given. The summer mother was 11, the family was... Read more.

Jane Goodman writes about her Alabama Granny

Granny was always a tough cookie to digest. If you weren't one of her many grandchildren or one of the gals from the gardening club, then you probably got the short end of the stick around her. But she meant well . . . tough love, I suppose. Granny was known for lots of things in our family. Some of my favorites: her classic dinner of fried salmon croquettes, green peas, and mashed potatoes; her perfect folded egg with "Granny toast" (soft bread with lots of butter); the fact that her floor... Read more.

Karen Salyer McElmurray's Grandmother Fanny

It is often her I dream about.  Fanny Ellen, my grandmother.  In this photo of her and my granddaddy, Clarence, she is the same age I was then.  Nineteen and more lonely than I can now imagine. I was living on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, where I worked as a short order cook and rose each morning at four thirty.  Still, I dreamed.  I dreamed of an attic back in Kentucky, a place  full of cloth pieces and boxes and 75 rpm record albums and school books from numerous childhoods, one of... Read more.

JT Torres Writes About His Cuban Grandmother

My grandmother remembers her family’s flight from Cuba as betrayal.  She never wanted to leave the island.  She felt as though her soul were somehow connected to it.  As a child, she wondered whether all souls were eternally anchored to their places of birth and whether heaven was simply a return to the motherland.  When she recounted the events leading to her becoming an American, she claimed to have been visited by the spirits of generals who fought for Cuba’s independence from Spain. ... Read more.

Peter Conners writes about Jesse Fowler Conners, known as Bema

Her name was Jesse Fowler Conners (we called her Bema, everyone else called her Jess). The toughest bird I’ve ever known. Born 1899 in a little coal mining town in PA… the doctor who delivered her came on a bicycle and she was so premature they thought she’d die. The doctor fashioned an incubator out of bricks that they had to keep warm around her and against the odds, she made it. She snuck away and married my grandfather when they were in their teens and then they just went back home to... Read more.

Claire Comeaux writes about her Cajun Grandmère

Grandmère I called her Grandmère. It was the name everyone called her—not just her grandchildren. Grandmère:  Cajun Grandmother.  Cajun: land made to take beatings from wrathful storms, and blood made of standing ground. Grandmother: the smell of vanilla dabbed behind her ears; white buckets of rainwater collected for watering the garden; gifts for the dozens of family members at Christmas because she never bought more than she needed, never even owned pajamas, always slept naked. In my house... Read more.

Jessica Jacobs writes about her grandma, Gloria Goodman

In the living room of my grandparent’s house was a large gray rug studded with patches of puffy white tufts. I would spend hours adventuring there, circling the couches as I hopped from island to island of white, cautioning myself that if I stepped on the gray in between I would fall into a vast unknowable void. At eighty-five, after ten years of intermittent chemo had taken their toll, my grandmother Gloria Goodman had a similar relationship with time: she moved through it in circles,... Read more.