Shirley Anne.


For those of us familiar with my life outside of my virtual domain, you know that a week after I left Minneapolis, my grandmother died. I can’t tell you how many times I listen to the /one/ voicemail I have from her, saved on my phone. Every moment I wish I could just hear her say “I love you” one more time, my heart just shatters a little more. I’m grateful to have friends and retail therapy to cope. Given, I may be covering bullet holes with bandaids, but you do what you have to, just to feel okay.

March 13th (today) is her birthday. Let me just start out by saying March has never been an easy month for me. I have my reasons, and this is one of them. But, incredibly enough, my mother and my little brother flew into New York City this morning, as if by magic. I like to think that Grandma had a role to play in this, just knowing we needed to be together today. We’re not as stoic as our Scandinavian brethren, but that whole “sisu” thing that we Finns pride ourselves on is definitely a real thing. Individually, we are mighty, but together, we are proud. Sisu strong.


I wish I could compose my thoughts in regards to our Shirley Anne. I do. I still can’t talk about her to this day without sobbing, but someday I’ll be able to share more. My grandmother always took great care in her appearance. Honestly, the woman, at 79 years old, had the skin of a woman 20 years younger than her. She used to take photographs of our family, print them on sweaters, and embroider them. Of course, I didn’t do anything like that to honor her. I’ve got a substantial lack of puff paints here in Brooklyn. I carry grandma in every action I pull, every step I take. Every garment I wear. She was so particular about her appearance and always knew her angles. Though she would never admit it, she was a beauty queen.

I think what would have made Grandma the happiest is this trip was met with me and my younger brother rekindling a relationship. We haven’t spoken for years, and the first time we did was at her funeral on September 16th. She just wanted her boys to love one another, and of course, we always did, but… things happen. It was a trial and a half getting to rekindle my relationship with him, but I’m glad we are where we are right now (and I know grandma is too).


I’d dreamed up so many plans for Grandma Shirley to go with me once she recovered. She had a fondness for puzzles, and the last one she’d ever completed was of the Rockefeller Christmas tree, and told me, that “this year, this will be your Christmas”. I’m convinced to this day that she held some level of psychic ability. She was always right. There are so many conversations we’d shared this last year that I’m finding out to be true, that there’s no way she wasn’t to some degree.As for those plans, from Brooklyn Museum, the Met, to Ellis Island, we tackled as much as my credit cards could carry.

The whole reason I moved here was because of her, after all. She told me NYC was the stage I needed to be on, and here I stay, no matter how hard it gets.

I see a little piece of her every morning when I look in the mirror.
I carry her with me always.

And I celebrate her life daily, not just today.

Darrin Clayton

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