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But it was Friday, November 22, 1963, the 13th anniversary of her passing, that unsettles me even more.

Grandma Anna McEntee passed when I was eight and we lived in Detroit. She lived in St. Louis. I only knew her for a short time, but she plays a significant role in my childhood memories. A grainy black and white photograph shows the two of us in front of a hydrangea bush in a park skirting Lake Erie. It was the very day of my First Communion at St. Rose of Lima in Cleveland, Ohio.

In May, 1948 our first grade class congregated in our room, the hall drinking fountains wrapped and secured in cardboard so we wouldn't sneak even a drop of water. The Church forbade eating and drinking from midnight if we were to receive Communion. The spring morning was sunny and warm with tiny buds were bursting from tree branches. Happy and innocent in my white dotted Swiss dress, I was even happier with Grandma McEntee there to witness it.

In 1950 she collapsed just a few doorways from her Meramec Street flat, a sudden heart attack the night before Thanksgiving. From Detroit, where we now resided, I recall my mother, father and me driving to St. Louis on a cold, rainy night with my father at the wheel, brushing away constant tears. I also remember the open casket at the packed funeral home, a very vivid memory.

But it was Friday, November 22, 1963, the 13th anniversary of her passing, that unsettles me even more. Still in my very Catholic, communion-receiving, churchgoing, confession-attending days before I started to think for myself, I work up early to attend Mass in honor of my paternal grandmother. It was sunshine bright and mild, an aberration that late Fall day on Long Island. I felt peaceful and content, walking the short half black to St. Francis Assisi church. Less than six hours later, the intercom in my senior history class cackled with the announcement that President Kennedy had been shot in Dallas. The world changed and so did I.

Pat Perkins is a member of the Jottings Group at the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center.


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