Grandmothers

Grandmothers
She had Grandmothers who tried to forget.
She had grandmothers who longed to remember.
She had Grandmothers who shipped their infant in a shoebox to a childless sister in Sanpete County with a note: “Sorry to trouble you, but he don’t want kids right now.”
She had Grandmothers who were desperate from betrayal and killed themselves by diving
head-first into a rain barrel after carefully placing their glasses on a clean hankie.
She had Grandmothers who left the pots and pans to ‘soak’ under the lilac bush.
She had Grandmothers who took early retirement, who chose passion over security, to make time for an affair with a childhood sweetheart.
She had Grandmothers who joyfully greeted the dawn.
She had Grandmothers who braced themselves for the day with valium, coffee and TV news.
She had Grandmothers who were uprooted by their grown children and moved to an old
barrack on the edge of a windswept nowhere where she spent twenty years sipping Black Jack Daniels and reading condensed editions of books.
She had Grandmothers who loved other women openly and with devotion and she had
Grandmothers who did not speak, even to their daughters, of their love of women.
She had Grandmothers with ample pensions who moved to a retirement village where a dark haired young woman reminded her to take her pills and where someone came twice a month to clean the wall of mirrors that made her room look bigger.
She had Grandmothers who loved the smell of babies and bacon, and of coffee, oranges at Christmas, wet horses in the rain, and men.
She had Grandmothers who trailed the scent of rosewater, whiskey, and coal oil.
She had Grandmothers who reeked of smoke and patchouli.
She had Grandmothers who were beaten, berated, and betrayed by thier daughters.
She had Grandmothers who were raped by their sons-in-law.
She had Grandmothers who seduced their sons and their nephews.
She had Grandmothers who read out loud and who sat on the stoop and taught the children, even the boys, how to thread strings of lilac.
She had Grandmothers whose grief and pain was bottomless.
She had Grandmothers whose laugh was contagious.
She had Grandmothers who left Sweden, who left Scotland, who left Wales.
She had Grandmothers who were born, lived, and died in one time zone.
She had Grandmothers whose brains and blood were splattered in the snow and on car windshields in the supermarket parking lot on the day her husband was served the restraining order and came and shot her in the head.
She had Grandmothers who packed imaginary bags to take imaginary trips to visit people who had died 40 years ago.
She had Grandmothers who were vegetarian.
She had Grandmothers who were Unitarian.
She had Grandmothers who slowly drank warm water for their constitution and she had Grandmothers who snorted cocaine.
She had Grandmothers who played cards with the same group of women once a month for thirty years who called themselves the “humbugs” who didn’t know that they were a “moon lodge” and never once called into the four directions.
She had Grandmothers who tried to forget.
She had Grandmothers who tried to remember.
She had Grandmothers who said we would be better off not knowing.
She had Grandmothers who whispered lies.

Julien Puzey Salt Lake City USA
Crone Chornicles Spring Eqinox 1998
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11 thoughts on “Grandmothers

  1. Oh, this is brilliant! It so reminds me of how little of our true selves we often share with our own children and grandchildren for a myriad of reasons. Thank you for sharing this!

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  2. This thought provoking poem leaves me… thoughtful.
    I wonder which of those Grandmas I am / how many of those Grandmas I am.
    One of the comforting remarks that is often made after the death of a loved one is that they live on in your memory. But, as this poem so eloquently points out, only fragments of them ‘live on’, not the essence.

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    1. Indeed. I read a piece by a woman once who had kept journals her entire life, had hundreds of them.
      She burned them all when she got old, fearful her grown sons would read them when she passed and find out she had ‘bad days.’
      I thought what a gift those journals could have been for her sons and especially for her daughters in law as her
      sons grew to know their genuine human mother through those journals.

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  3. It reminded me of the little things – good and painful – that I remember about my grandmother. It’s strange how after just a couple of generations people become almost like myths or legends. A single small thing that happened in their life can come to define who they were.

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    1. Yes, Kim you are so right. I am even finding that when the ‘family’ stories are hauled out now, at holidays for example …while us older ones are still living, I am always surprised that one of the stories that seems to be what I am ‘tagged’ with is an inconsequential afternoon when my children were small and I found a large snake in my kitchen and after several unsuccessful attempts to get it to leave, I killed it. These ‘children’ are now middle aged adults with a hundred story choices about Mom, ones that I would believe define me, but boy do they hang onto that snake story! Imagine what that snake and that ‘story’ will look/sound/ be after a couple generations of holiday gatherings.

      “You read and write and sing and experience, thinking that one day these things will build the character you admire to live as. You love and lose and bleed best you can, to the extreme, hoping that one day the world will read you like the poem you want to be.”
      ― Charlotte Eriksson

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      1. I love that quote. And that is exactly what I mean. It is just the same with my children. Not with snakes (thank goodness) but I’m sure there are a couple of spider episodes that will stick in everyone’s minds. I have a feeling my mum is disappointed that the only thing I can remember about my childhood trip to Denmark is her terrible sea sickness on the boat journey. A strange thing to remember after all these years. As John Lennon said – ‘Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.’

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    1. Thank you so very much. I got up early this morning and thought I would add a new category to my website for Poetry, and start it off with Grandmothers. Wondered if anyone would read it. And there you were!

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