The placidness of doom. That’s what my grandmother called it. I didn’t understand it then, but I do now. It is in that moment when fear of the inevitable comes to light. “Gram,” I said. “How can you be calm when the worst is happening?” She would not say. Maybe she did not know how to explain it because it hadn’t fully come to her yet.
She knew inevitable. She had seven grandchildren and four of them were born out of wedlock. Back then, that was a black mark upon her name, but mostly it was against her no-account kin. Gram knew those children would grow up, get tangled in their own messes, and move on to face whatever dirtiness still lived inside them. None of them were worth a damn near as I can tell, but she loved us equally.
She lived most of her life as if she were lifting sacks of grain, toting us from one place to another, always tired, but not yawping about it. She kept lifting us up and setting us down in a comfortable place, even if that place wasn’t as comfortable as we would have liked. Her heart would break every time one of us left for good, or got jailed, or made pregnant, or turned out as worthless as she expected. She carried us the best she could.
Every Sunday morning, she would spread us on the living room floor and tell us Bible stories after breakfast, about Moses and Jesus and Job. I think she liked Job most of all, because it was like a mean joke you were allowed to tell. Job was a man who kept slipping on the banana peels God set before him, but he didn’t cuss his troubles. He went on stepping on those dang peels and he didn’t turn mean. Even a boy like me could figure out what she was saying: it was the placidness of doom. Everything will turn out all right if you don’t bare your teeth. It was a good story, and some of us learned it better than others. I reckon I took it to heart.
After the Bible stories, she would parcel out the Sunday funny pages. We would not snatch them from each other, or scatter the papers, or holler “my turn, my turn”. We would read them carefully, and then retell the funny parts in funny voices. Gram would sit in her ladder-back, hands on her knees, lean forward, and watch us laugh. I think that was her most favorite time of day. The inevitability of doom, for her, was far away in those moments, though surely she knew it was waiting on her, and for the rest of us. But there was calmness in her eyes. She didn’t call it doom. She called it life, and sometimes it could be good.

Thank you for reading, and may you have a calm and fruitful 2017


24 thoughts on “Gram

  1. painkills2 December 31, 2016 / 2:32 pm

    “that was [a] black mark”

    “he didn’t cuss [about] his troubles”

    What kind of friend would I be if I let these go just because it was New Year’s Eve? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Steven Baird December 31, 2016 / 2:43 pm

      lol… good catch. I’m going to leave the second one (cuss his troubles) since it flows better. But where would I be without my guardian editor? 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. patriciaruthsusan December 31, 2016 / 3:13 pm

    Good piece, Steven. You truly make your characters come alive. I can see her sitting there with the children in front of her. Great writing. Happy New Year 2017!! 🙂 — Suzanne

    Liked by 1 person

    • Steven Baird December 31, 2016 / 4:20 pm

      Thank you, Suzanne. May you have a wonderful and peaceful new year!


  3. smilecalm December 31, 2016 / 5:37 pm

    well spoken, Steven!
    so much to learn from Gram & elders!
    wishing you creativity continued
    this new year 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Elaina Jensen January 1, 2017 / 2:41 am

    Happy New Year to you and yours, Steven. Wishing you a good life and that your dreams come true in 2017 and always. Laine

    Liked by 1 person

    • Steven Baird January 1, 2017 / 12:44 pm

      Thank you, Laine. And may this year be rich with fulfilled hopes and success for you. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. D. Wallace Peach January 7, 2017 / 1:57 am

    Wonderful writing, Steven. I could see her, hear her, feel her. You captured Gram down to her core. I was so glad to see your posts slid across my email while I was out. You can’t keep a writer from writing, you know. I wish you a new year abounding with good health, peace, and a persistent muse. 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Steven Baird January 7, 2017 / 10:34 am

      Thank you, Diana. I wish you the same (feel better!). These small character sketches seem to help. There’s a story there somewhere… I just need to polish it a little more cleanly.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. C.E.Robinson January 10, 2017 / 1:23 am

    Steve, love this story! I’m a Gram (five granddaughters) in this day and age, so can relate to parts of it. Grams are the pillar of the family, so I’m told! Happy January 2017. Happy you visited my blog and we met! 💛 Christine

    Liked by 1 person

    • Steven Baird January 10, 2017 / 11:52 am

      Thank you, Christine! My maternal grandmother was my favorite relative and often an inspiration to me. Very nice to meet you. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Think. Write. Inspire. January 10, 2017 / 5:52 pm

    This piece was truly poignant. You really captured your main character’s situation (as well as the grandchildren). I can’t really explain how good this piece is. It just is. It resonated with me.
    It reminded me of things my dad would say after making observations about people we didn’t even know. It made me feel all the love we have for our families even when we wish things were different.
    Very well written, good job!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Steven Baird January 11, 2017 / 3:07 am

      Thanks so much for reading and for your wonderful comment! Your words “even when we wish things were different” right so true. Maybe that’s why I write. Thank you again… you made my day. 🙂


  8. cathleentownsend March 18, 2017 / 8:00 pm

    Sometimes life can be good– a piece of wisdom we can never hear too often. Thanks for reminding me. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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