A patch of skin

I purposefully celebrate my birthday each year in some way. It is a choice that I make and something that was not always done. Having a birthday that is close to Christmas meant that I got blended gifts “Birthday and Christmas gift in one”.
After the euphoria of Christmas, the eating and the drinking, the visiting from house to house by the time January 4th rolls around everyone is pooped.
My birthday meant little pomp, some times I would get a cake, sometimes a gift and very often nothing. I was happy with that since I never wanted to celebrate the day.
Each year after Christmas I would silently get depressed. I felt a great dread, an unmentionable fear that gripped me and made me long for my birthday not to come and pine for it to be over. I spent the day listless and often dressed in black.
I would be in my twenties before I figured out why.
I remembered my grandmother as a patch of skin seen out of my child’s eye as she passed by me on the stairs to the front porch. A floral print skirt, revealed a bit of her calf and that was all my eyes could see.
With that memory came another. I was standing in my aunt’s room watching myself in the mirror. My cousin appeared in the mirror, his head way above mine, “ Mammy died this morning.” My face got wet, my eyes looked out of the window to the roses in the garden, flat and petalless after the heavy rains from the night before.
From then my birthday became the horrible day that my grandmother died, a day that was not to be celebrated. No cake, no gift, nothing could free me from those feelings of sadness and dread that stayed with me over the years.
I did not connect the event, with the feelings until I asked my mother, “When did granny die?”
She answered, “On your birthday.”
It was not a secret, it was just not spoken about.
I did not blame myself for her death. My birthday was for many years a painful reminder that the patch of skin was gone and with it all my memories of her.

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2 thoughts on “A patch of skin

  1. This was really heartfelt – I wish I had a memory of her. Your birthday should always be celebrated – one because you are special and two, your granny made sure you would always remember her in a special way. Celebrate the both reasons each and every year.. XOXO

  2. Those are great reasons to celebrate. I only have tales that people tell me about her and I am actually in some of those. I will hold on to the memory of the patch of skin and value that I have at least that.

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