Discover more from A Letter from Rocco
Maybe I've made a mistake?
A few weeks ago, I wrote to you to invite you on a new journey. Specifically, I shared that I would be reading Sue Grafton’s “Alphabet Series,” my Granny’s favorite books, in an effort to grow closer to her.
What I did not anticipate was that I might not like the books.
You see, I don’t normally read book series. It’s a big commitment and it all hinges on you falling in love with a main character or a quaint little New England town. And I very rarely connect with characters so closely that I want to follow their every move.
In the past month, I have read the first two books: A is for Alibi and B is for Burglar. And I can definitively say that I despise the main character, Kinsey Millhone.
Kinsey Millhone is a private investigator who has very few likeable qualities. She is the narrator of the series, and she butts heads with practically every person she encounters, including her own clients and the police department that she relies upon. She comments on the weight and income of almost every person she encounters. Kinsey Millhone has been married twice, but has vowed to spend the rest of her life alone because she doesn’t think that anyone is interesting enough to spend her time with.
And so I naturally asked the question: what in the world did my Granny see in these books? Did she actually like Kinsey?
But then it hit me: Granny didn’t just like Kinsey. She admired her
I haven’t shared that much about my Granny, but maybe this is a good place to start. I don’t actually know a whole lot about my Granny’s life outside of funny anecdotes and memories. She was a hard-working single mother of three daughters. She never re-married after her husband left her in 1974, and she worked various retail jobs to be able to send her children to Catholic school.
I’ve been trying to place myself in my Granny’s shoes as I’ve started to read the Alphabet Series. Where I see an unnecessarily rude main character, I am certain my Granny saw a woman who took no non-sense and fought for what she wanted. Where I see an emotionally stunted private investigator, my Granny saw someone whose past did not define her. Where I’m turned off by Kinsey Millhone’s judgments, my Granny must have seen someone who had it all together.
In a very real way, I know that these differences are mostly disparities because of our different eras. Characters comment throughout the books about how unusual it is to see a female investigator, getting a McDonald’s meal for $1.69, and making stops at phone booths.
There’s a reason these books aren’t considered classics.
Which brings me back the purpose of this venture. I’m not reading the Alphabet Series to becoming more cultured or even to be entertained. I am reading these books in an effort to grow closer to my Granny, who passed when I was in middle school.
I’ve found that I’m thinking of my Granny often. I’ve been praying for her and asking her to pray for me and my healing, to pray for inspirations that will enlighten areas of my own story that I haven’t been able to understand.
And I know she’s praying for me. More than once since I started reading A is for Alibi, I have smelled a unique scent that brought me right back to her little trailer near the beach. I’ve been praying for understanding, to be able to move beyond my own wounds and instead to see the truth of the generations that came before me.
It is a true gift to live in a time when trauma and mental illness are being destigmatized, even if there is so much more work that needs to be able to be done. To be able to ask questions to try to understand others, free from anger or a sense of vindication, is simply not something that generations have had in the past, outside of maybe a small group of saints who received such a grace or psychiatrists who were interested in cracking the human code.
As I continue reading my Granny’s favorite books, I hope to remember that I am not here to judge her and her experiences, but simply to understand her better as a person. And that begins with understanding why she was attracted to Sue Grafton, the Alphabet Series, and Kinsey Millhone to begin with.
It hurts my heart to think that my Granny may have admired to be Kinsey Millhone. I don’t want her to have felt like she needed to be superior to other people or aspire to always get her way in order to be successful.
I can’t imagine what it was like for my Granny to raise three daughters by herself in the 70s and 80s. But I wish that she would’ve known, and I pray to God that that she knows now, that she was incredibly successful. I hope she knew that God loved her just as she was an saw the sacrifices that she made for love of him and her children. And I hope that she see now, in the afterlife, that these sacrifices, joined to the sacrifice of Christ, are literally what saves the world.
St. Paul wrote, “I fill up in my flesh what is lacking in Christ’s suffering.” What could be lacking in Christ’s perfect sacrifice? It is the sacrifices of you, of me, and of my Granny. We make Christ’s sacrifice complete.
That’s worth more than the solving of many murders
I’ll see you next time for C is for Corpse. There’s a little bit of a wait for it at the library, but I promise it’s coming.