Author Topic: Embers, a Description and a Poem about My Granny Born 100 Years Ago Today  (Read 2661 times)

DGSquared

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5211
  • Kudos: 8
  • May the farce be with you.
    • View Profile
2019, September 25th

My Granny, Betty (Davis) Leach, my mom's mom, was born 100 years ago today. She died in 1991, four months before Darren and I were married.

She was sharp as a tack and very intelligent. She was a pilot in college and told me once that when she was young, her dream was to be an astrophysicist.

Sadly, a case of appendicitis caused her to miss her last three months of college, so she was unable to graduate, then the war broke out. She married and had five kids. My mom was the eldest. My mom's brother, Bruce Leach was killed in a Navy P3 Orion that crashed off the coast of Okinawa on April 1968. My mom’s sisters, my Aunt Nonnie, Aunt Mary, and my Uncle Bill remained close but no one in the family fully recovered from that tragedy and she carried the devastation of that loss with her every day of her life. We all did, but I know they all felt it more profoundly than I.

I remember being a little kid and going down to San Diego for my Uncle Bruce’s graduation from Naval training. We camped in a motorhome at the beach. She and I were sitting around the fire one night and I pointed the flashlight up at the sky. She told me that light goes on forever until it hits something. To me, this was fascinating, and I had to test it out. That night she pointed out the Big Dipper, the Little Dipper, showed me other constellations and told me why they were named and what that meant, and my love of the stars, the moon, and the night sky was officially born.

When the astronauts landed on the moon, she called me in Texas and told my mom to make sure I could watch it on TV. She and I talked about it and how brave the astronauts were. She said she would have loved to go to the moon. She saved the newspaper with the headlines of the Moon Landing for me and gave it to me when I was 21 years old. I still have it.

I always marveled at her ability to sit down with a cup of coffee early in the morning and do the crossword puzzle every single day, and she usually finished it. My mom sent her crossword puzzle toilet paper once as a gag gift and Granny joked she was tempted to get her pencil out and go to work on it.

She was the biggest cheerleader I ever had in my life. She called me, Honey Girl and told me I could be anything I wanted to be. I went to live with her, my Grandpa, and my Uncle Bill when I was 11-years old. She loved to laugh and wasn’t afraid of anything that I know of.

Her life was marred with tragedy and sadness, but she was a sweet, kind, loving, and generous woman. She shared a lot of things about growing up in Raton NM, the mesas, the railroad, the Golden Spike, and how she loved Colorado, especially Ouray. I miss her and I appreciate the gifts of love in everything she did for me, for giving me courage, and for pointing my eyes toward the stars.


I often think about how her life would have been different and how such marvelous opportunities could be snatched away to change one’s path so dramatically. Had her life not taken the turns it did, I would not be here. I’m grateful to be her granddaughter.


This is a work in progress from NaPoWriMo 2019.


Embers


Finished constructing another meal,
she hands her husband a corrugated lunch pail
and thermos as he returns dutifully to work.
With a goodbye kiss,
the opened door announces today's weather.
Morning chores accomplished; she sits for intermission.

Window filtered rays of sunrise cast a halo
on her worn-out, wiry hair.
She rests her elbow on the sinewy woodgrain
of the old oak table oozing memories,
revealing stains, and underneath,
forgotten bubblegum
from three generations of family sprouting into the next.

Auburn highlights whisper of her youth.
The leathered cracks that score her lip-line
tell of bittersweet realities,
wind, and the sorrow she’s weathered
in the high desert
with mosaic Joshua Trees
that wave at you as tumbleweeds roll by.

Between rising ribbons in a spectral of steam,
she peers over her glasses and white, porcelain coffee cup,
angles her head sidelong and shakes a cancer-stick
loose from the pack.
She picks up her Bic and spins
a flame with the snap of a finger.

Takes one, lengthy drag from her long Virginia Slim,
sets it in the ashtray
among crinkled, lipstick-stained cigarette butts
to be forgotten.
She seizes the newspaper to dissect,
folds the page that remains to her proclivity.

She turns to scan a cluttered counter for a #2 pencil.
Her tool of choice retrieved,
she flicks its eraser beads
into the bed of cigarette butts
and checks to ensure the graphite
is sharpened to a fine point.

Concentration fierce on her brow
until that a-ha moment
is meticulously scribbled
onto her crossword puzzle
while her cigarette lingers,
smoldering relentlessly
into a train of ashes
held together and bent
as if sculpted in Play-dough.

Reminders of the war, misplaced possibilities,
and unknown consequences
no longer haze her consciousness,
not now, anyway.
Peeking over the rim of her glasses,
the champion looks up, smiles,
and cheerfully says, “Good morning, Honey Girl.”

Smoke still climbing from the heavy, leaded glass ashtray
the embers advance
while the nicotine cloud lingers tenaciously.
Eventually, the fire gives up and succumbs,
as did she.
Her blaze of aspirations not designed
to be wasted as they were.

~Deb
« Last Edit: September 26, 2019, 03:45:18 AM by DGSquared »
"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read." -Groucho Marx

A child’s life is like a piece of paper on which every passerby leaves a mark. -Chinese proverb

Blondesplosion! ~Deb

Mark Hoffmann

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 9228
  • Kudos: 19
    • View Profile
Re: Embers, a Description and a Poem about My Granny Born 100 Years Ago Today
« Reply #1 on: September 26, 2019, 09:04:47 AM »
Hi Deb

What lovely thoughts. I particularly like the strophe where she's doing the crossword; you paint a very vivid picture.

Mark
Writing humour is the hardest thing since sliced bread.

The Severed Hands of Oliver Olivovich
UK - https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B087SLGLSL
US - https://www.amazon.com/dp/B087ZN6L6V

FB Author Page - https://www.facebook.com/Mark-Hoffmann-Writer-102573844786590

DGSquared

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5211
  • Kudos: 8
  • May the farce be with you.
    • View Profile
Re: Embers, a Description and a Poem about My Granny Born 100 Years Ago Today
« Reply #2 on: September 27, 2019, 04:57:08 AM »
Thank you, Mark. As you saw, I posted this on Farcebook so my aunts would see it. They both told me they cried. So, they were moved to tears. My poetry is that bad.  ::)   

I appreciate you reading and commenting.


~Deb
"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read." -Groucho Marx

A child’s life is like a piece of paper on which every passerby leaves a mark. -Chinese proverb

Blondesplosion! ~Deb