Eye to the keyhole

eye to the keyhole

Uncredited photo


On the heels of Granda Finn’s passing there was a great deal of hubbub going on behind closed doors in our little apartment on Canarsie Street. 

The bits of hushed conversations I was able to string together through the keyhole made it clear that both my Nana and my Uncle Finny, had decided that Granny Sabina was too old go on living in the apartment she and Granda Finn had shared, but neither of them was presently ‘in a position’ to take Granny Sabina in either.

“We’ve run out of options.” I overheard Nana telling Momma. “Granny Sabina will just have to come and live with you.”

Now all they had to do- was convince Granny Sabina- and even I, a child of ten at the time, knew that would not be an easy thing to do.

The problem was a bit of a rift had formed between Papa and Granny Sabina when Papa made the decision to leave his foreman’s position at the foundry and follow his dream- working full time in radio. You see, radio is the one thing Granny Sabina can not abide.

“Look it ye gathered round that bird in the box like it t’was a one ring circus come to town!” She’d say, clicking her tongue in staunch disapproval as she retreated to the kitchen every Sunday at Nana’s as we’d settle in around the radio to listen to Papa’s show.

The evening Momma was to break the news to Papa, I left the apartment, but only went as far as the vestibule. I then crept silently back to just outside our door, where I sat crouched, eye to the keyhole.

“Margee,” Papa said as he slid his chair back excitedly from the table, and took Momma in his arms, “You just find a way to get her in front of a radio tonight at eight. I have a wonderful idea!”

Eight o’clock found the whole family gathered around Nana’s kitchen table. Uncle Finny had slipped away to warm up the radio in the great room as we busied Granny Sabina with telling us stories about the old country, her favorite past time.

Granny was just about to recant her latest version of licking the McArdles at their own game when the melodious strains of Papa’s rich tenor singing voice streamed in through the door Uncle Finny now held ajar.

Danny boy. Tipperary. He sang them all, finishing up with Granny’s own favorite, The Black Velvet Band.

When the bird in the box grew silent, there wasn’t a dry eye to be found. Then we heard Papa say, “Each and every one of you listening, have to thank for tonight’s stroll back to the Emerald Isle, my very own Granny, Sabina Brigid Barrett. I’ve taken special care to make sure Granny Sabina is in the listening audience tonight because I have a special favor to ask of her.”

Then, just as if he was in the room looking deep into Granny Sabina’s pale blue eyes himself, he said,  “Granny Sabina, me one and only sweet Irish rose, would you do meself and me family the glorious honor a gracin’ our home with the smile a yer Irish Eyes from this day through till tomorrow’s tomorrow? Will ye make our family complete by makin’ our home, your home?”

He then broke into the sweetest rendition of When Irish Eyes Are Smiling any of us had ever heard. So sweet in fact that even Granny Sabina couldn’t help but sing along.

This piece was inspired by the three phrasal prompts offered last week on the OLWG #136. The phrases were:

  1. we’ve run out
  2. Bird on the box
  3. A one ring circus

10 thoughts on “Eye to the keyhole

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