Tuesday, April 22, 2008

My Grandma the Poet (A Memoir)

a true story from my hometown life:

I grew up in a small town and loved grandma and visited her house
I stayed there lots of weekends
even until my late teens

she made homemade candy
and treats, good homecooked meals
and the holidays everyone in the family came there

aunts and uncles and lot sof cousins
there weren't any boy cousins
although I had two brothers
(they were much older than I)
I made mudpies with my girl cousins
who giggled incessantly
and told me how to cook
fine pies in the mud

grandma tended to her kids
but when she got older she worked a little...

grandma was the town "cookie" cooking burgers that all the teens loved at the soda five and ten

you know the malt shops with soda jerks? in the 1950s...

post war bums with some slicked back hair and cars with big fins

susie was over in the corner
eatin' grandma's burgers

grandma was behind the counter and she grins

watchin the drama unfold
susie ignored the man's advances
and all the other cooks

susie was a real good looker

I had a burger there in the Soda Fountain place in the late 70S before they tore down the place
the same owner was there but he was Cookie now, and grandma was living in the twilight of her life. the place was empty, but the food was still good and you could get a lot for your money all the noise was down the street at some fast food place. There wasnt even a battle of the bands no more. The owner worked there with his son who never had another job and stayed with his daddy till the end even though he was all grown

I went to grandma's house for a visit soon
after seeing her old working place

grandma was rockin
in her rocking chair
writing poems and crocheting and watching Portland wrestling

when she gave advice you listened

I never forgot her
her love was the most patient teacher

any grandson could have
and I often told her I loved her so

from as far back as I remember..
I have memories like this:

grandma would say Timmie
and was happy to see some of my first poems
scrawled in crayon
or pencil
so grandma and me would write at the same time when I was little and she was so big in my little eyes

her gentle ways taught me more about the
goddess than just about anbody
I know

I think grandma was a goddess

she would write poems by the hours
on sheets of typing and notebook paper college ruled
and writing tablets

all handwritten in very large letters

I was high enough to peek over the arm of the chair to watch what she was doing

if I was good and asked real nice
grandma would read me some
out loud

she had a way with words

these were lyrics and fine ballads

born in 1900 on a homestead she was a country girl
grandpa was a sharecropper
they seemed poor
but rich in so many ways

but we were so happy

grandma liked reading romance magazines
in that rocking chair
songs of home, heart, romance

and her and grandpa were married for more than 50 years

you know grandma taught me
a lot

and every once in awhile
when I write a poem now
I think grandma sees it

I hold it up to her just like I used to and you know what?

she grins

and that still makes me pretty damned happy.

here's an excerpt from one of
grandma's poems:

Tomorrow's End

My wonderful kids
How I love you so
I must know if there is a place
For me, or a home to go.

I won't need many extras
Just a bed at nite
A place to love my grandchildren
And my poetry to write.

Could I have a chair by a window
With the sun shining in
That would make me so happy
As my eyes grow dim.

I'd be all settled in comfort
Shielded from the cold
What a glorious feeling to know
Then I am growing old...

author's note: grandmothers can be terribly important. as you can tell, mine was extremely important to me. the poet "gene" certainly runs in my family...my grandma, my mother, and both my daughters write prose that inspires and moves me across all time.

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