July 9, 2019

Elizabeth S. Wolf

JULY 1993

When my grandfather died,
lawyers wept. The family
held a roast, presided over by his
younger daughter, at a hotel
by the funeral home,
probably on his dime.

It made me a little uneasy.
“It’s just not right,” I said.
My aunt said, “Let’s have a
contest. Who did he say
the worst thing to? Who did he
treat the most badly?”
My grandfather hadn’t spoken to me
in years. I went home.

The next morning over breakfast,
my aunt told me I was declared
the winner. “But I wasn’t there,”
I said. “Exactly!” said my aunt. “You
were excommunicated, dear.
Shunned. Cast out.”

I took a sip of coffee and waited.

“Did you know, when your father died—”
“When I was 16,” I chimed in—
“Exactly. Well. Your grandfather, my father,
declared you were such a bad daughter,
it killed your father. And that’s why
he so suddenly died.”

I was stunned.
“Really?” I asked.

“Truly,” she answered. “Neither man
thought you did enough
to take care of your mother. ”

“I was a child,” I said. “And, I didn’t know
that she needed to be taken care of.”

My aunt reached for her purse.
“Did anyone ever tell you?” she asked.

“No. Not until this very moment,” I replied.

My aunt poured a nip bottle of Grand Marnier
into her cereal bowl. “There,” she said.
“You won.”

from Did You Know?
2018 Rattle Chapbook Prize Winner

__________

Elizabeth S. Wolf: “I write because telling stories is how we make sense of our world, how we connect with our world, how we heal, and how we celebrate. I write to find the sliver of truth within the plethora of information; mining my monkey mind for a trace of grace.”

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