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.

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