My grandmother’s life was an exercise in triumph:

motherless too young

crippling poverty and fear of persecution

forced her into servitude at six.

She told me stories

of curling up behind a stove at night

of being a child sold to care for children

of angry mobs outside her door

and then two ocean voyages – because when they reject you,

you must work harder to return again.

In her new home, new challenges:

poverty, lack of education, illiteracy

but she had two good hands that knew hard work

and two good eyes that could find imperfections.

She worked when her husband could not.

She worked, though signs said “not not apply.”

She persisted.

She learned how to read. And sign her name.

In their one bedroom apartment

her two daughters did not know hunger.

They went to school.

They learned to do what she could not.

Her hands continued to stitch and sew and knit

and lovingly prepare feasts on a penny.

And then, when it was finally time to relax,

when the hard work of raising children was long behind her,

that’s when new hardships arose:

arthritic fingers that still baked and cooked and sewed

and cared for growing things

eyes that watched through coke bottle glasses

as my grandfather got lost

in the candy aisle

her eyes made sure he had his insulin

then later, when his memory faded, her voice called him home.

She struggled through his illness like a champion marathon runner

never resting for herself

keeping up with his pace of degradation

She outlived him by ten years.

When cancer came for her, she met it with a smile.

And when her heart grew too weak to keep up with her pace,

she moved into her long sleep with a peaceful countenance.

And though her greatest shame was her lack of education,

my grandmother was the smartest woman I have ever known.

via Daily Prompt: Triumph



Add yours →

  1. mumsthewordblog1 June 12, 2017 — 12:29 am

    What a beautiful tribute to your Grandma. It sounds like she was an amazing woman 😃🦉


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