LOUISE: Grandmama’s Gift
I didn’t know my grandmother well. She lived a couple of hours away and didn’t visit our home since my grandfather never drove a car. A wagon and a team of horses were familiar to him, but cars were just too foreign. On visits to their mountain home, I sometimes wondered if they were poor. Although we lacked what many considered necessary amenities in our own farmhouse—having no indoor plumbing, TV, or telephone, my grandmother still cooked on a wood stove and their three-room house was heated by a pot-bellied, coal-burning stove. When visiting, I would often draw water from the outside well and carry it to the kitchen for her.
Grandmama was also “hard-of-hearing” so I didn’t know how to interact with her. I felt disrespectful yelling at her, even though it was the only way she could hear. But in spite of her difficult circumstances, I never saw my grandmother unhappy. She sang all the time and wrote beautiful poetry. I was only 14 when she died and still knew so little about this gentle soul. .
It was after I became an adult that I learned my soft-spoken grandmother, who wrote many of the songs she sang, was also a brilliant, outspoken woman, writing editorials for the local newspaper during World War II while her sons and son-in-law were overseas.
Best of all, I learned that my grandmother was present at my birth. She stepped in to “deliver” me, in my parents’ home, when the doctor was detained and arrived after I did. Having raised 11 children of her own, my father being next to the oldest, she certainly had plenty of expertise. I like to picture her sponging me off, wrapping me in a warm blanket then rocking and singing to me just minutes after my birth. In those quiet moments, I believe she prayed a blessing over me and passed on her gift of weaving words into poetry, songs, and stories.
So in truth, my grandmother gave me two gifts—the poem she wrote especially for me, and the legacy she passed on through her own writing. Both gifts have lasted a lifetime.
(I wrote this poem several years ago in honor of my grandmother, Edna Pearl Tucker.)
Especially For Me