Sadly, three of my good friends all lost family members over the last few months. One lost his grandmother, the second lost her brother, and the third is dealing with the recent death of his father. Naturally these losses caused a great deal of grief, upset, and certainly a lot of reflection on the importance each loved one had in their lives. I’m fortunate that both of my parents are still here, but the death of my grandmother over twenty years ago still has the power to upset me as though it were only yesterday that she passed away.
Luckily, my grandmother wasn’t someone I saw only on holidays or occasional Sunday afternoons. She was my second mother. She lived in her old farmhouse just through the cornfield, behind the tomato rows, and past the walnut tree at the end of the path. If I didn’t actually see her face to face every single day of my life, I still saw her in the backyard when I looked across the field, or I caught a glimpse of her in the thick butterbean rows. She was in my life when I was born and throughout my life helped me in any way she could. In her later years, as much as I could, I tried to help her. When she died I thought about how she had been there for me since my beginning and how as she aged and needed help, it was a natural matter of course that I would do what I could for her at the end.
I’m not much of a writer, and even less of a poet, but when my grandmother died the poem below just came out of me. She was a good, Christian woman and I think she would have liked what this poem says. When she was alive, she was there not just for me, but for my entire extended family and she knew we were there for her. She believed we will all ultimately be together again.
Religious beliefs are tricky, personal things, different for each of us, but it always eased my mind to see how strongly my grandmother held on to hers. She said we’ll all be together again, I believe her, and I find comfort in that. I hope my three friends find the same comfort as they remember how their loved ones cared for them, how they returned that love, and how we’ll be back together again in time, all notions that I tried to express twenty years ago when I wrote this tiny poem about my grandmother:
Hand in Hand
You held me tight in times I might
Not have wanted to stand.
A child so young, life just begun,
You there to hold my hand.
Your years flew past, painfully fast,
Sooner than I had planned.
Effort in talking, weakness in walking,
My turn to hold your hand.
But there’ll come a time, both yours and mine
To see wonderful things, so grand.
We’ll meet in that place, a smile on the face
And we’ll hold each other‘s hand.
Stuart M. Perkins