Friday, April 6, 2012


At Real Toads, there is a Grandma theme going on, based on Maid Marian's (of runaway sentence fame) prompt to write something inspired by the music of the late, great Vic Chesnutt. If you click over to Toads, you'll find Vic's touching song to his grandma, along with some  moving tributes by other poets to their grandmothers. My grandma was my anchor and my lifesaver, when I was a child.

She was larger than life,
when I was four:
twinkling eyes, a sense of humor,
lots of cackles.
She and Big Boy, the cat, 
had a running game over
whether or not he'd make it 
out the screen door
before she let it fly.
He would calculate the distance warily:
the lovely scent of the outdoors,
the pressure on his bladder,
but Her, standing holding the door
open invitingly.
Would he make it through this time?
Was it worth it?
How badly did he really
need to pee?
She enjoyed this game 
a lot more than the cat did.

In the morning I'd wake to the slap
of water hitting the vines 
on the side of the house,
as grandma cooled things down 
against the heat of the day.
Her yard was always abloom:
sweet pea and mint, 
forsythia and mimosa,
and roses, twining the arched trellis
over the front gate,
where I'd hang, 
swinging back and forth, 
waiting for my parents 
to pick me up
after work. 

She'd lower the awnings
like sleepy eyelids
over the two front windows.

At naptime, she'd lie down beside me,
her warm comforting womanly body
lulling me off to sleep in safety.
No screams or crashes ever woke me
from sleep at grandma's house.

Her kitchen clock ticked 
loudly and peacefully
on the kitchen shelf.
I could hear it in the back room,
where we'd sit
listening to 
the crack and rumble
of the thunderstorms
Grandma loved in summer,
waiting for the metallic scent
just before the rains 
hit the parched earth.

We "watched the fairies" 
dancing in the fireplace
on quiet afternoons.

She was all I knew of stability, 
and that life could be normal, routine
and comfortably safe.

She could be stern
and I was more afraid of her displeasure
than I was of God's.
She said she had "magic glasses,"
that she could see me when I was at home,
and I believed.

She told me of a perfect little girl called Vivian,
who had wonderful manners
and never did one thing wrong.
All us grandkids hated Vivian.

She chortled with delight,
walking home from afternoon tea,
at how I'd said "Haaaaaah, Miss Hicks?"
when I didnt understand her question.

"Haaaaaaaah, Miss Hicks???" 
my grandma teased,
fairly chomping with pleasure,
while I blushed and bridled.

When my Grandma was old,
in extended care,
I repaid her for all the hours 
she gave to me
as a child.
I'm still here,"
she'd say disgustedly,
as I popped my head 
around the door.
"Too damned healthy!"

We'd sit under the trees,
or at the window 
watching the sunset.

I sat with her as she lay dying, 
that long week.
Bending over, I whispered into her ear,
"Thanks for all the love, Grandma"
and watched a tear
run silently down her cheek.

At the funeral, we played her favorite
"Galway Bay" at the end,
and my mom broke down.
On the bus going home,
I was thinking of Grandma 
and all the years,
when the  notes of Galway Bay 
tinkled through my brain,
from left to right, and away.
Instantly, I said, "Hi Grandma,
I love you,"
as the notes exited my brain,
for I knew that it was Grandma
passing through.


  1. Oh boy! This prompt has asked us all to dig deep, hasn't it? What a one-of-a-kind Grandma you had. We learn a lot from them.

  2. Who wouldn't wand a grandma just like yours Sherry. She sounds like a wonderful and very loving person, even if you thought she was strict, kids need to know their boundaries (as I am only too well discovering)
    What a lovely read.
    As the prompt didn't specifically state we had to write about Grandmas' I went and listened to a few of Vic Chesnutts songs on Youtube and for some reason 'Flirted with you all my life' resonated with me today.
    Great writing Sherry, and even better read. Love the pic too :)

  3. i love this, sherry. so comforting, unless you count the cat torturing :)

    i'm glad you had her, and the refuge she offered you. xoxo

  4. What a beautiful collection of memories. I smiled and cried with it. Thanks so much for sharing your precious grandmother.

  5. Such lovely memories, Sherry. I always liked taking naps with my grandma (even though I didn't like naps)... I love-

    She'd lower the awnings
    like sleepy eyelids
    over the two front windows

  6. I love the memories you are sharing,y in Sherry. It is wonderful that she was stability for you; and I also loved that she and you took naps together. That is such a warm and wonderful picture.

  7. Sherry,
    Thank for sharing this gift with us!
    She was amazing and so spirited~ I am so happy you had her to balance your life! I love the tender images and the teasing you shared!
    So beautiful and touching~

  8. I loved learning about your grandmother, Sherry. I loved that she crashed with you when you took a nap and her idea of 'magic glasses.'

  9. The second stanza is just AMAZING and I really enjoyed

    "She could be stern
    and I was more afraid of her displeasure
    than I was of God's."

    but the ending, you sitting with her and leaning over and telling her "Thank you" just did me in.

    My heart is so FULL right now. :)

  10. I knew form the moment you said your were writing about your grandma that this would be a good one. How great is it to have had such quality time at many different points in her life. So many never get to know their grandparents very well. What a great ride ...I love it.

  11. What a wonderful tribute to a wonderful woman! She sounds like a perfect grandma for a little (or a big) girl to have. It's so nice that you could be with her when she passed.


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