My grandmother, Ann Muniz, was beautiful. And she took care of herself—obsessively so. She would put on fresh lipstick for the walk to the curb to the get the mail from the mailbox. Her daughter, my mother, is the same way. It wasn’t until I took driver’s ed that I found out what the rear view mirror was actually for. I grew up thinking it was for lipstick reapplication before getting out of the car.
I cannot call up a single image where ‘Granny Ann’ wasn’t dressed nicely, didn’t have her hair done—and her purse always coordinated with her shoes. I never saw her without nail polish. From my earliest memories, I have always associated her with Jackie Kennedy. I don’t know why.
To the family’s knowledge, the only magazine my grandmother ever subscribed to was the TV Guide. She also had the morning paper delivered, but no one remembers seeing a single issue of TIME Magazine on her coffee table or anywhere else in her always-neat-and-tidy house. My cousin, Nadine, and I used to draw devil horns and fangs on the models in the Ladies Home Journals that she’d occasionally buy on a whim at the grocery store. But, TIME Magazine? Nope.
I lived in Virginia when my pretty grandmother passed away in 2004. By then, my mother and father had already retired and moved to Florida. But, we all went back to New Mexico for Granny Ann’s funeral. My parents and I had returned to our perspective states long before my cousin, Marisa, and Granny Ann’s faithful ‘gentleman companion’ dispersed, distributed, or donated her personal belongings.
Fast forward ten years to 2014. My mom and dad are in the waiting room of a doctor’s office in Lady Lake, Florida. My dad peruses a pile of magazines on an end table.
Something caught his eye: Jackie Kennedy on the cover of a magazine.
Intrigued, he pulled the TIME Magazine from the pile of recent periodicals.
His eyes skimmed over the cover. The word Albuquerque on the mailing label jumped out at him. Amused, he was about to show my mother that he’d found a magazine from their hometown—a place where they’d lived from birth to 2002 (except for a short stay in California in the ’60’s). Wearing a grin, he sat down and scanned the entire address.
He read the label again just to make sure.
In the waiting room of a doctor’s office (that neither of my parents had ever been to before) my dad had picked up a magazine belonging to my mother’s mom.
Shaking his head with disbelief, he handed my mom the magazine. “Take a look at the name and address on this.”
A chill ran up my mother’s spine. Her mind tried to come up with a rational explanation for a very old magazine with her mother’s name and her New Mexico address on it showing up in a random doctor’s office in central Florida.
My parents tried to brainstorm on how that could have possibly happened. My dad asked my mom if she had brought some paperwork or magazines from Albuquerque when they returned after the funeral ten years previous.
“No. I didn’t bring anything back except a few small sentimental items. We left before they’d gone through her personal papers and photos. I did not bring this with me. Why would I keep it for ten years only to get rid of it? That makes no sense. And besides, who donates magazines that are decades old? Have you ever seen a magazine in any other doctor’s office as old as that one?”
Stunned, my mom and dad approached the receptionist and asked where they got the magazines in their waiting room. My dad indicated the TIME in his hand. She said she didn’t know where that particular magazine came from.
“Sometimes people bring in magazines after they’re done reading them. We’ll find them on the table—or they’ll drop them off with me. But that one? I don’t know how that got here. Most people cut out the mailing label on front or at least mark through it with a Sharpie pen. I’ve worked here six years and no one has ever left a magazine that old.”
My mother explained, “Well, believe it or not…this particular magazine belonged to my deceased mother who lived in Albuquerque and died in 2004. In her entire life, she never visited Florida.”
The receptionist told the doctor about the mysterious magazine. He told my parents that he didn’t have any idea how the old periodical found its way to his waiting room.
He graciously let my parents take the TIME Magazine home.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you exhibit A: