Memories of my grandmothers

My father’s mother.
I remember her, bent from the waist, in the kitchen,
Her domain.
A teacupful of flour,
A knife tip of soda.
Pies on the counter
Cookies in a well-stocked cupboard,
The first place we ran after “Hello”.

A nurse turned farmer’s wife
She learned to cook for large crowds –
Husband, four children, hired hands,
All hungry.

As a teen I would steal her
Harlequin Romances,
Reading them late into the night,
Dreaming of someday.
We drank tea out of her china,
Opened gifts of underwear and mixed nuts
At Christmas (socks for the boys).

I learned after Ada was born,
(We’d planned a home birth)
That she often acted as midwife
For the Dutch families in the area,
Nursing still in her blood.

It was she who encouraged my father
To stay in school when her husband
Expected him – the eldest and only son –
To take over the farm.
My father, the PhD and professor.
I see so much of her face in his now.

Last year I entered my first baked goods
In the State Fair in her honor.
Like her, I won first prize.

My mother’s mother.
A spitfire at five-foot-nothing.
The first woman to complete her
PhD in Nutrition at UC Berkeley.
The first time I visited the city
I took a wrong turn and drove past
The house where she lived with my grandfather.
We are deeply connected, she and I.

She lost babies too.
One son lived 24 hours
After the doctors damaged his brain
With forceps.
Buried in an unmarked grave.
No one left alive knows where.

Another stillborn on the side of the road
In Texas as they crossed the country from
Berkeley to teach at Cornell.
Sometimes I feel like Ben’s death
And my grief
Were to help heal her pain too.

As a little girl, I’d wake at dawn,
Waiting to hear her moving around downstairs.
She’d let me feed the fish.
We’d talk and make breakfast:
The best granola ever
(I still make it, without the wheatgerm).

I picture her face,
Wrinkled, beautiful, wise.
I remember her laugh and
The way she’d sit at the table
In the morning light,
Plucking stray hairs from her chin.

I wish I’d been older
Before she died
But at twenty-one I didn’t realize
How much I’d misremember stories,
Holes where details should be.

I remember reading that when she is still
In the womb,
A baby girl already carries the eggs
That will one day become her children
Should she have any.

A piece of me in my grandmother’s body.
These two women’s blood running
In my veins.

I miss them.

This piece was written for Tara Mohr’s Grandmother Power Blogging Campaign. You can read the other posts, and find out how to write one of your own by clicking the link above.

P.S. Shine: 28 days of listening to your inner wisdom and claiming your truth starts May 25. If you’re ready to deepen your trust in yourself and in Life, I’d love for you to join me and the beautiful community that is forming.

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4 Responses to Memories of my grandmothers

  1. Casey says:

    Thank you for sharing these beautiful poems, Alana.

    They offer a real insight into the kind of women your grandmothers were, and also the kind of loving soul you are. It is clear that you have internalised the love that they had for you, and use it to fuel your daily life.

    Take care,


  2. pamela says:

    What a gorgeous poem!!! I don’t remember my grandmothers – they died too soon. What did your grandfather teach at Cornell? I feel like our lives have crossed on so many paths. xoxo

    • Alana says:

      My grandfather was a crop scientist (a potato expert!) and my grandmother taught food chemistry in the Hotel School. All her recipes cards had NaCl written instead of Salt. 🙂

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