My Grandmother’s 3-Second Gift

A story about Anna Brennan by Jo-Ann Downey

My grandmother, Anna Brennan, was both tough and soft – in almost equal amounts. Born in 1916, I am sure she experienced a lot in her life. Funny thing though, she never spoke of the past. In fact, I don’t recall her speaking of the future. She lived very much in the present moment. I guess she was “conscious” before it was hip! I often played at my grandmother’s house. She had a basement with a crawlspace which I thought was haunted. I was never too scared because I knew she was always upstairs in the kitchen. Growing up, my grandmother bought me ice cream cones and joyfully prepared the food that I liked – butter and peanut button on toast was a favorite!

My grandmother made me feel special, unique and watched over. When I was 21 years old, my grandmother gave me a 3 second “gift” that changed my life. I was packing up for my senior year in college. I was so excited because I was getting my first apartment. I was working extra hours that summer to buy items such as dishes, sheets and silverware. One day we were talking about my apartment and she said “I want you to have my rocking chair for you first apartment.” Her comment lasted a total of 3 seconds. I knew she really meant it; I knew deep inside of me that she truly wanted me to have the rocking chair.

My grandmother didn’t do anything that she didn’t want to do- and you knew it. Her offer was unconditional. In those 3 seconds, I took in “I want to be with you while you are away, I want to give you something significant, you are going to be great, I want to honor your adulthood and I trust you”. The feelings of self-confidence and support I felt filled every cell in my body. I believe my life was forever changed in those 3 seconds. Thank you Anna Brennan, my maternal grandmother.

If you would like to honor a parent or loved one, we’d love to hear and publish their story. Contact us for more guidelines on what we need.

  • Yngathrrt

    This is such a sweet story, and the love of unconditional speaks so clear and strong, as it left an impact on you, and it should have. It touches the heart. It reminds me also of a story that I wrote concerning grandparents, actually with me, a great grandmother that I never had the chance to meet, but will remember the story forever that my mother told me. The story is so long, but will copy and paste some of it here, and the rest can be found…

    if anyone is interested. The title is The Special Birthday Watch.

    It was my birthday, and not even a special birthday at that. I was 48, and growing older, (and regretting my years that were taking a toll on me.) My mother called and wanted me to come over for my birthday. I did not. I was not feeling well that day. Not just physically, but psychologically. It was just not a real good day for me. Birthday or not. To me it was just another day. To much was going on with my life to answer the call of a Birthday wish. At least that day. That Birthday.

    My sister called and told me that I needed to make a special effort to go to Mom's house soon as I could, as the present Mom wanted to give me was a heartfelt one, and one I would treasure. Forever! One that would effect me through my entire life. I agreed to go, and pulled myself out of bed and negative state of mind, and went to my mothers house. I agreed, and really wanted to go anyway, and so pushed the pain aside, physical and mental. I cheerfully walked into her sitting room for my Birthday present. I wanted her to know I was glad to be there, and when I walked into the room, I was glad to be there. She just had away of making you feel that way. Being glad to be in her company, having away of putting smiles on faces. What she gave me that day will never leave me, the looks, the tears, the talks, the everything. The all and all. The wonderful gift, the present. The whole of her.

    After my mother died, I collected all her most precious things. All her poetry, her knick knacks, collected her what nots, dreams, collections, her butterflies, hummingbirds, her pictures of old and new. And the picture I keep beside me is of three. A picture of her, and her mother, and her grandmother (who adorns in her picture of old times, a beautiful portrait with her wearing that gold watch and sporting that beautiful gold chain.) I wish I had known my great grandmother. I want to feel the special bond that my mother felt with her. Someone I never knew, but was so much a part of me. I feel it when I hold that precious watch. So many times I can feel it when I hold those precious memories my mother felt and gave to me to feel, upon holding that precious watch.

    To sum this all up, it is so important that we care, remember and cherish the things of the past that our loved ones gave to us, as it makes it important that we remember these things, and they become part of our lives emotionally.

    Ryan, thanks for this blog as it gave me the opportunity to remind me and express memories of family and why they are important. And I would love to hear other comments of memories from others.


  • Ryan Malone

    Glad you liked it Katie. Jo-Ann Downey–the author–is a dear friend of mind, so it's awesome that the story touched some people.