By Amanda Knox
“You should grab…that thing…that you know for sure…and put an exclamation mark…around it…and that’s the end…of that. Put the secret…around it…and whatever was…a secret…make it…for sure.”
This was the response my grandmother, Sylvia, murmured to me from her hospital bed when I asked her for a piece of winning advice. If it sounds cryptic, it’s because she was recovering from chemotherapy and a stroke. Each word came slowly, painstakingly, and there were drawn-out pauses that made me worry she had lost her train of thought.
This was very unlike the Sylvia I knew. The Sylvia I knew was gregarious, chatty, people-oriented, especially if those people were family. She knew the names of all the beauticians at the nail salon in the local strip mall. Her neighbors were intimate friends. To me, she was like all that’s good about a Hallmark card—sweet, sentimental, sincere, reliable, communicative, though lacking subtlety. Because she lives a seven-and-a-half-hour drive away in Montana, I even associate her with the holidays.