After suffering a debilitating stroke in the early 1960s which left the right side of her body paralyzed, Grandma learned to walk anew, as well as to write and eat with her left hand. She then lived between her two daughters, spending spring and summer with us in the north; fall and winter with my aunt in the south. In her last years when her health declined, Grandma remained with us until her death in 1981. When Grandma died, I wrote a poem about her life, aging and death as experienced through the eyes of her once little, then pre-teen and teen, now young adult grandaughter, in which her homemade prayerbook was well remembered.
i remember oh so well,
saddled on your loved one's knee,
rocking and bouncing til his muscles ached
with pain and boney leg ceased
its satisfying movement.
i remember disappearing,
leaving you the role of seeker,
and being coddled in your arms
once my hideout was discovered.
i remember butterscotch and lemon drops
so generously shared with all
and the bag filled with bars of chocolate
placed strategically out of my reach.
i remember riding the elevator chair,
and walking crippled with your cane.
i remember helping you up
off that frowned-upon church chair
and turning the pages
of your homemade prayerbook.
i remember your angelic voice
becoming broken and unable to keep up.
i remember short conversations
becoming longer and so painful to endure.
i remember pushing you
through unwanted exercise,
and watching your eyes bellow with tears.
i remember feeding you
in infant-size spoonfuls,
when you simply wanted milkshakes
through a straw.
i remember your forlorned features,
as we told you you couldn't come home,
and your sigh of desperation
feeling trapped with no place to go.
i remember the day we left you,
and the next when you left us.