The Story That Isn’t This Story
                       Essay by Suzanne Cope

      In this story my grandfather does not die.  He does not fall over while tilling
the garden and my grandmother does not yell to my cousin to go get help and she
does not sit by him, crushing the zucchini, while she waits for the medics who
come too late.
      In this story my father does not wear dark sunglasses and cry for one week
straight.  We do not sit inside during a beautiful July week watching
Gomer Pyle
and Star Trek re-runs.  My strong father who has never really talked much about
his emotions does not seem to be falling apart in this story.  He does not choke
up at frequent, random moments during normal conversation.  In this story we
can define “normal conversation.”
      My grandmother does not fall into a deep depression in this story.  In this
story she still leaves the house on errands and still looks forward to trips to visit
relatives in Pennsylvania.  In this story she does not develop back pain nor does
she start taking Valium.  In this story she still falls asleep at ten or so and wakes
up at sunrise to make eggs and bacon for the revolving door of family members
who still stop in for food or to drop off their laundry.  In this story my grandma’s
kitchen still smells like snickerdoodles.
      In this story I visit my grandmother every time I make the five hundred mile
trip home.  In this story I do not have to pull back the curtains in the darkened
living room because in this story my grandmother is not sitting on the couch
watching the Home Shopping Network.  In this story my grandmother does not
tell me that she hasn’t seen my father in weeks, maybe months, although she
knows he’s been around because she’s seen his truck parked next to the barn
out back where he keeps his tools.  In this story my grandmother and I bake
together when I come to visit and while our confections are in the oven she
shows me how to crotchet like when I was little.  In this story she asks me about
my job in Boston and doesn’t tell stories about my uncle’s crazy ex-wife.
      In this story I don’t see a seventy-five-year-old woman waiting for her life
to end.  In this story I am the good granddaughter who calls every week just to
chat.  In this story everyone is normal and we all can define what normal is.  In
this story we are all good again.                 


Suzanne Cope lives in the Boston area and teaches Writing and Public
Speaking at Marian Court College in Swampscott, Massachusetts.  Cope
has published a number of pieces on food, family, travel, and pop culture in
various print and online magazines, and she contributed to the anthologies
Single State of the Union (Avon, 2007), This Day (Random House,
2005), and
New England (Greenwood Press, 2006).  She earned her
MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Lesley University and is currently at work
on a family memoir titled

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Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of
Contemporary Literature

ISSN 1931-3888

Volume 4, Number 1
(Spring 2009)

Copyright © 2009
by Leah Browning, Editor.

All future rights to
material published
in the
Apple Valley
are retained by
the individual authors
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