Mary Grimm ~ You Won’t Remember This

Nonfiction
My cousin Terry Ann went into labor at my Aunt Honey’s annu­al Labor Day pic­nic. (Possibly she was already in labor when she got there.) Her sis­ter Jackie timed her pains while Terry Ann sat at the pic­nic table side­ways to give room to her stom­ach, drink­ing cof­fee and smok­ing (because that is how you went on when you were preg­nant in those days). The aunts kept ask­ing her if she didn’t want to go to the hos­pi­tal and Jackie kept beg­ging and then order­ing her to go, but she went on her own sched­ule. She slowed time down, she told me lat­er, one deep breath after anoth­er and every­thing slows, goes deep­er, until time becomes a still pond. This was a skill she had in those days. The gath­er­ing was suf­fused with sig­nif­i­cance that hov­ered over the bar­beque ribs, the pota­to sal­ad, the straw­ber­ry pie, the choco­late chip cook­ies the size of the wheels on the red wag­ons we had played with when we were kids. The sun shone fit­ful­ly, and the mut­ed dreams of labor and unions, of the heat of the blast fur­nace, the steam ris­ing off the new­ly rolled steel cool­ing in the snow, all of what our fathers had giv­en their lives to, drift­ed under the trees. We looked at pho­to albums and laughed at the ancient hair­dos of our moth­ers, their out­landish cloth­ing, until Terry Ann said that it was time, and she went at last to the hos­pi­tal to join them.

~

Mary Grimm, whose sto­ries have appeared in The New Yorker, Antioch Review, and the Mississippi Review, among oth­er places, is cur­rent­ly, work­ing on a his­tor­i­cal nov­el set in 1930s Cleveland and teach­ing  fic­tion writ­ing at Case Western Reserve University.