Penny Burns


As a child, my mother and uncles would sit around the kitchen table and tell stories of their childhood. They spoke often of my grandmother’s strong will and temper. They told these stories with good humor and as children we thought they were funny. We thought of our grandmother as strong, and admired the strength that got her, a single mother divorced from an alcoholic, and the family through the Depression.

As an adult, however, I began to realize that my grandmother abused my mother even after my mother married and started her own family. The stories, which in my youth were funny, ceased to be funny. This piece is one of those stories: When my mother was ten years old, she didn’t have dinner ready when my grandmother arrived home from work. So, my grandmother threw a toaster at my mother’s head.

© Penny Burns