Grandma's Diary by Terri L. French

(Dedicated to the memory of Ida Mae “Ikey” and Kenneth James “Kenny” Casey)

Grandma’s attic smelled of old newspapers and moth balls. It was musty and dusty and hot–a perfect hideout. The stairs were steep and I knocked my head on the slanted ceiling’s rafters. Plunked down on the twin bed inhabiting one corner I’d fritter away the afternoon thumbing through copies of my uncle’s old MAD magazines. But, one afternoon, when Alfred E. Newman’s charm wore off, I rummaged through a chest at the foot of the bed. Underneath some hand-embroidered doilies, I uncovered a small, book with a broken strap and lock. On the inside cover was written, “Ida Mae Jacob,” in loopy cursive. It was my grandmother’s diary!

“Kenny and I had a spat,” she wrote on August 11, 1934. Seems she had caught him “making eyes” at another girl. But, Kenny, the cad, was also a chivalrous balladeer. On August 12, 1934 he came to my grandma’s front porch, serenading her with “I Love You Truly,” on his trombone. They lived in a small town in Michigan. A town where the surnames on the mailboxes and the surnames on the headstones had been the same for generations. I’m sure the resonant sounds coming from that trombone drifted down the road and into many a neighbor’s open window. Grandma was mortified. “Oh, boy, the kids are sure gonna razz me tomorrow,” she wrote. She must have taken the razzing well, because Grandma “Ikey” and Grandpa Kenny had been married 53 years when grandma passed away.

I closed the diary. Guiltily, I hid it back under the yellowed doilies, closed the chest, and descended the stairs. The kitchen smelled of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. Grandma was elbow-deep in dishwater singing in her soprano trill,

A love tis something, to feel your hand,
Ah, yes, tis something, by your side to stand,
Gone is the sorrow, gone doubt and fear,
For you love me truly,
Truly dear!