42 Isn’t Always an Answer

42 years ago today my grandmother Mary Trosko died. She was 56.

It’s odd to have such specific memories and to have the effects stay with me: so many things about that day were just a little bit “off” before I got the news.

A neighborhood girl, Cynthia Baines, said to me, “Mary died,” before anyone else told me. It wasn’t real, of course. She was not authority on anything real to a six-year-old. Only family had such sway.

But then our family car came driving down Vaughn Street. But my mother wasn’t driving, my Aunt Toots was: off. My mother was in the passenger seat and I had never seen the two of them in a car together alone: off. It was a Friday but I wasn’t at school: off. It felt like winter: off.

My mother was crying. You could always tell when she was crying. Her face and nose get very red; my Aunt was stoic: off.

Three months later my great-grandmother, my grandmother’s mother, would die.

Summer 1970 was a Before-And-After Season. My first.

Not the last.