To write about our grandparents is an honor and an opportunity. To spend time appreciating our grandparents and their role in our lives, is to recognize the beauty in human experience. Taking the time to solidify the character, love, and years our grandparents spent on earth, influencing and affecting others, is to permanently etch our awareness of how they paved the way, toiled, and loved to give rise to the next generations.
One Lit Place community members Tanya Makela, Kathye Fetsko Petrie, Cathy Jeannotte and Gina Buonaguro have written 4 works about their grandparents with lyricism and emotional depth.
Their verse and poetry is a gift. Those few “moments of repose” (Robert Frost), we spend considering our own families and ability to influence others makes us all better writers- and better people overall.
by Tanya Makela
I can see her smile as she sits facing me with her deep set blue eyes, smoothed out lips gently hiding her gums and missing teeth. My baba, her gaze so full of love, adoration, and gratefulness for me being there. She is feeding me and caring for me, as is always her way.
But I also feel her secret, a heavy sadness weighing her soul and petite skeletal earthly frame down. Buried deep, I can see her fierce spirit surfing her wave of history, through war, migration, loss of her children, little triumphs, and ultimately a final surrender to the universe.
~ Tanya Makela
She Loved Me Best
by Kathye Fetsko Petrie
My grandmother lived her life in the shadow of the Appalachian Mountains, in a small upstate Pennsylvania town where people sat on porches and greeted neighbors on summer evenings, and everyone helped each other. Kindness was incorporated in her soul. She believed in the goodness of people.
In my grandmother’s presence, the world felt safe. Her hugs were like benedictions.
When my grandmother died, a cousin said “she loved me best.” We all took umbrage. Then we realized he wasn’t saying he was her favorite, he was saying her love was the purest he had ever felt.
He was right.
~ Kathye Fetsko Petrie
Kathye Fetsko Petrie is a freelance writer/editor whose work has appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Literary Hub, Literary Mama, Bookwoman, The Writer and other publications. A mom of three sons, she also recently became a grandmother. More at www.kathyefetskopetrie.com
forgetting, not forgotten
by Cathy Jeannotte
time-gnarled fingers hold my gaze
his age is in his hands
I want to smooth their roughness
with my familiar touch
and soothe the sadness in his eyes
loneliness shadows his days
paralyzing the night
with agonizing stillness
I long to fill the emptiness
and see him smile again
memories bring him tears of joy
in momentary flashes
he warms my hands in recognition
as I pray he understands
he is forgetting, not forgotten
~ Cathy Jeannotte
by Gina Buonaguro
Where the mountains meet the ocean
in a spectrum of grey,
I weep for long-dead grandmothers—
though I think it is for my heart.
I talk, I laugh.
I see myself
talking and laughing,
but I am in the rolling hills
of the east, buried
by too much thought.
It does not rain here,
but the mud
is still fresh, the gutters
I still twist
into a knot
with my tongue.
~ Gina Buonaguro
Gina Buonaguro is a Toronto-based writer. Her website is https://ginabu.com/.
If you wish to spend time considering your own family, life, and personal stories, please be in touch to see how we can help you write your own memoir, personal essay and poetry through individualized writing coaching–
Or have a look at our next session of Journey to the Page: Writing Your Life Stories, an 8-week nonfiction writing course.