Elevate Difference

These Here Are Crazy Times 2

Every so often, I’ll be on the phone with my ninety-one-year-old grandma and she’ll reveal a tidbit I’ve never heard before. The most recent revelation—admittedly several years ago now—was about her only serious boyfriend before meeting my grandpa. He hadn’t been interested in religion, and my gram just couldn’t envision a future with such a man, much as she loved him.

My grandpa, a theology professor who fit the spiritual bill, has been gone for a decade, but while I’m always working to pry memories from Gram’s Alzheimer’s infected brain, I’ve got a nice little book full of grandpa’s handwritten notes about every major event of his life. The once-blank journal contains 365 questions about childhood, marriage, children, and aging; always an educator, he filled it out like a homework assignment and gave it to me before he died.

Most people aren’t lucky enough to have such compendiums of information about our loved ones after they’re gone. Even fewer would know what to do with it. Sarah May’s zine, These Here Are Crazy Times 2, about her late grandmother, Martha Luzier Birdsall, is filled with stories about working in a coal mine, getting married in the Methodist church, and losing a brother in WWII, many of which bear resemblance to my own family history. Several years before her death, Sarah May’s grandma gave each of her grandchildren a folder full of poetry and family history, but it wasn’t until years after she’d been gone that Sarah May started poring over her grandma’s personal stories about losing everything but a yard full of turkeys and a big vegetable garden during the Great Depression and dating an enlisted guy who showed her his incomplete divorce paperwork as an afterthought.

Some people have a knack for storytelling, and it’s clear that Sarah May inherited hers from her grandmother. Pick up this small booklet for stories about how things have changed—and how, when it comes to some things like dismissive doctors and broken hearts, they haven’t changed at all.

Written by: Brittany Shoot, February 18th 2011