Archive for the ‘Grandmothers’ Category

Poetry is the record of the best and happiest moments of the happiest and best minds.
~Percy Bysshe Shelley

Make a Memory

A few days ago I posted a poem titled Make a Memory and promised I would tell the story behind it. My sister-in-law, Tiz, asked me not to be too long about getting it up, especially after I told her that she and my brother, Mike are part of the story and Mike was a prime player in “the memory.”

Mike and Tiz live in Australia and last September, they visited us in Wisconsin for the very first time. I hadn’t seen my brother in far too many years and had never even met Tiz so this was a big occasion. A wonderful time was had by all but one incident stands out to me above all the others. It was a simple thing really but rich and very complex in meaning to me on several different levels.

We had gathered on the porch in the late afternoon just talking about this and that, enjoying each other’s company and my Gr-son Gabe was sort of lurking around the edges of the adults, listening to our conversation (I think we were discussing politics or something) and he had come up and leaned against me. I could see that he was trying to get closer but there was nowhere for him to sit so I invited him to sit on my lap.

Now Gabe had formed somewhat of a huge boy crush on my brother Mike and I had noticed he was trying to impress him so I wasn’t surprised when he informed me rather scornfully “I don’t sit on peoples’ laps anymore, Gramma.” To which I replied that I guessed he WAS getting a little too grown up for that but I sure wished I had known the last time he sat on my lap that it was going to be the last time. He asked me why and I said because I would have made a memory about it since I loved it so much when he sat on my lap when he was little.

At that point Mike chimed in with a comment about how important living in the present and being mindful of what is precious to you when you are with your loved ones is because you never know when the last time is going to be. We had a short discussion about that. That was probably the best–most meaningful–conversation Mike and I had that whole weekend. There was a whole lot that was left unspoken but was said nonetheless, in my opinion.

The conversation moved on and awhile later Gabe came up and nonchalantly sat on my lap. I didn’t say anything, just gave him a little hug but I knew what he was doing. After a few moments, he leaned in close and whispered in my ear “This is the last time, Gramma. Make a memory.” 

When they got home, Tiz sent me some pictures of their visit. One of them is the picture of Gabe and Daryn playing with some kangaroo boxer toys and there is Gabe, sitting on my lap. Occasionally I would look at that picture and think about sweet Gabe saying “This is the last time; make a memory” and think about writing a poem. Eventually that poem pretty much just wrote itself early one morning. I changed very little after the first draft. Mostly just line breaks and punctuation and one word.

So, Thanks Mike and Tiz.  You both helped make a special memory.

Barbara Gavin-Lewellyn


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To live in hearts we leave behind, Is not to die.
Thomas Campbell

I didn’t exactly make a New Year’s resolution to start writing in this blog again but I’ve been thinking about it a lot.  I really should; I have so much to say.  <hehehe> So here we are already three weeks into the New Year and a post is born.

My daughter was here last week and somehow we got onto the subject of how people who live here or their relatives dispose of their stuff when they leave to go into a assisted living, nursing home or the funeral parlor.  There are often this building’s version of a garage sale.  A notice is posted on the bulletin board that such and such an apartment is having a moving sale and the apartment is opened up for a couple of days for the browsers and bargain hunters.  Sometimes there is a notice that if you need something, come have a look see and it’s yours for the taking.

That’s how I got some bowls and plates my daughter was admiring (and that’s how this conversation got started).   That’s what I want to happen to my stuff when the time comes.  Not that I’m planning on going anywhere soon but when you get to my age and have the health problems I have, AND you live in a building where more than half the residents are Senior Citizens who are moving on to somewhere else with alarming frequency you think about these things.

So I told Kerryn that she and her brother should take what they want and give the rest of it away.  Of course that got us started on a walk down menory lane as we glanced around my apartment and she pointed out some things that had sentimental value to her.  That reminded me of the most important thing I have that belonged to my Grandmother.  My kids have heard the story about the nearly 100 year old bird of paradise milkweed pod I have carefully drug around with me since 1974 more than once but of course it doesn’t have as much significance for them as it does me because they didn’t really know my Gramma Della Hoyt Fate.  It makes me sad to think that after I go (aka die) that memento and the memories connected to it  will be lost.  She told me I should write the story down so it would survive me.  So here it is.

This is a picture of the milkweed pod my Gramma, Della Fate kept in her bedroom, hanging on her mirror.  It was picked on the property my Grandfather owned on the day he asked her to marry him so let’s do some math here.    Grandmother was 80 years old when she died in 1974 so that means she was born June 13, 1984.  She was 22 years old when she married my Grandfather and if I remember correctly,  they had a fairly long engagement–at least a year.  Probably two.  So this milkweed pod is at least 96 years old. It hangs on a picture of some Victorian Ladies in my bedroom.

That potholder is an example of some of the fancy crochet work my grandmother used to do.  I really regret not keeping one of the high heeled slippers she made in the ’60s and stiffened with some kind of starch so they would stand up. She made a lot of them and gave them away as gifts to the ladies in her Bible Study and Prayer group.  They were really cute but not exactly something this budding hippy was interested in.  She also made a lot of doilies and stuff.  For a long, long time time I had a purple and lavender flowered towel with crocheted lavender borders that she made for me as a young teen.  Those were my favorite colors at the time.  Eventually the towel wore out and the crocheting disintegrated.

But my favorite were her rag rugs.  In the summer she would sit out on what she called the North porch  (it was enclosed and essentially served as an additional room on the house for three seasons) and rip old dresses and remnants of fabric into long strips which she then sewed together on her old treadle machine (which I have) and rolled into huge balls.  (The north porch led to her front door and the South porch led to her back door but I always found that confusing because I think the North porch faced east and the South porch faced North.  <shrug>)  Then in the winter she used a giant crochet hook and turned them into rag rugs.  I used to help her with rolling those strips of fabric into balls.  My favorite memories of my Gramma take place on that porch.  I even had my own rocking chair there.

Here’s Barbra Streisand singing my favorite song about memories.  I love this song.  I’d like it played at my memorial service.

Memories, light the corners of my mind/ Misty watercolor memories/ of the way we were. Scattered pictures of the smiles we left behind/ smiles we give to one another/ for the way we were. Can it be that it was all so simple then/ or has time rewritten every line?
The Way We Were Lyrics  Barbara Streisand

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The Little Orphan Annie


James Whitcomb Riley


Little Orphan Annie’s come to my house to stay.
To wash the cups and saucers up and brush the crumbs away.
To shoo the chickens from the porch and dust the hearth and sweep,
and make the fire and bake the bread to earn her board and keep.
While all us other children, when the supper things is done,
we sit around the kitchen fire and has the mostest fun,
a listening to the witch tales that Annie tells about
and the goblins will get ya if ya don’t watch out!

Once there was a little boy who wouldn’t say his prayers,
and when he went to bed at night away up stairs,
his mammy heard him holler and his daddy heard him bawl,
and when they turned the covers down,
he wasn’t there at all!
They searched for him in the attic room
and cubby hole and press
and even up the chimney flu and every wheres, I guess,
but all they ever found of him was just his pants and round-abouts
and the goblins will get ya if ya don’t watch out!!

 Once there was a little girl who always laughed and grinned
and made fun of everyone, of all her blood and kin,
and once when there was company and the old folks was there,
she mocked them and she shocked them and said, she didn’t care.
And just as she turned on her heels and to go and run and hide,
there was two great big black things a standing by her side.
They snatched her through the ceiling fore she knew what shes about,
and the goblins will get ya if ya don’t watch out!! 

  When the night is dark and scary,
and the moon is full and creatures are a flying and the wind goes Whoooooooooo,
you better mind your parents and your teachers fond and dear,
and cherish them that loves ya, and dry the orphans tears
and help the poor and needy ones that cluster all about,
or the goblins will get ya if ya don’t watch out!!! 

It’s a pity I didn’t remember this poem and post it before Halloween.  Well I did but I posted it on my other Blog and didn’t get around to putting it up over here. 

My Grand-Daddy used to recite this poem to us little kids from memory.  It may have been the only piece of poetry he actually knew by heart.  It used to give me the shivers but I wanted to hear it again and again.

He gave me my first book of poetry when I was in third or fourth grade–a nice big thick book called “A Child’s Treasure of Verses.”  It was Delphinium Blue and about the size of a Reader’s Digest  Condensed Book.

It was the first book I ever got that didn’t have pictures.  And it wasn’t my birthday or anything.  He found it in the garbage at school where he was the janitor.  Grand-Daddy was always contributing to my reading addiction and was the main reason I could read at college level when I was in the 6th grade.  Bless his heart.

I spent many happy hours reading that book.  I can remember one occasion that I actually memorized something in it for a talent program and I can recall reading this poem to my brothers when I was 12 which would have made my youngest brother of three  8 or 9.  Yeah, we were stair-steps.

My Grand-son was still too young this year for this poem but next year I think he will be ready.  I hope it is a warm evening Halloween night because I will recite it in the dark with much drama and fan fare!



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Man is the only animal that laughs and weeps, for he is the only animal
that is struck with the difference between what things are and what
they ought to be.

— William Hazlitt

Gosh, it was a beautiful day today. Bright blue October skies and crisp fall air the way only Wisconsin can make a blue sky in September and October. As I walked Igor down to the dog park late this afternoon, shuffling through the leaves that had been falling all day, I was transported back in time to another day with another dog.

The only thing that was missing was the smell of leaves burning. Well, that and Gram’s apple butter simmering on the back burner, turning into a tasty sludge that I would happily slather onto her home made bread in the winter.

My friend Kathleen and I walked Igor up to the Capitol Square tonight for the last potty run of the evening and enjoyed the relatively warm temperatures and the waning Hunter’s moon over the shoulder of Lady Forward. You could definitely see the face of the “Old Man In the Moon” tonight.

I did four loads of laundry so I definitely got my exercise in for the day. I stopped in at the chiropractor,Aaron Abplanalp,who has set up in the Metro politan Place retail space as Life City and asked if he accepted medicare and medical assistance. He does so I made an appointment. He’s awfully young but then anyone my son’s age and younger seems awfully young and my son is almost 37.

I feel a bit guilty about taking business away from the chiropractor I have been going to but this guy is just around the corner and it would be so easy to pop in to see him. So if he’s any good, I’m going to switch because I know I would get to him more regularly.

Patches is still residing on the dresser but she is getting braver about the dog. Boy if she had claws, he’s have a very sore snout! She has walloped him hard enough to hurt a couple of times so he backs off when she gets that dainty little paw into position. I wish she’d come back to bed with me. I miss the nightly interaction we had with her massage and the purring.


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We’re off to see the Wizard, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
You’ll find he is a whiz of a Wiz! If ever a Wiz! there was.
If ever oh ever a Wiz! there was The Wizard of Oz is one because,
Because, because, because, because, because.

Lyrics by EH Harburg, music by Harold Arlen “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”

I’m off to see my Grandchildren tonight. My nephew will pick me up sometime between now (9:15) and Midnight and take me to Edgerton. He works odd hours and doesn’t get off work until 8:00 PM. It works out good for me because then I can sort of stretch that rule the building management has about not leaving pets alone for more than 24 hours out a little.

I don’t like to leave Patches alone for much longer than 24 hours but she does fine for 36. She’s more than happy to see me when I get home though. I got the paperwork necessary to get permission to have a dog in this building but I don’t have a clue what happened to it. They have to be designated as a companion dog. <heheh> Patches could use a companion.

Not so sure about me. Dogs are a lot of work but there are all kinds of guys in this building who would like to walk my dog if I get one. <shrug> I would feel safer if I had a dog but…

I would love a Boston Terrier or a Boxer. Better yet, I would like a mutt mix of either of those. I’m not all that big on pure bred dogs. The inbreeding is nasty. I saw a cute little rat terrier/jack russel mix up for adoption by its owners that I would be interested in but they say they don’t know how she would be with cats. If she hasn’t found a home by mid week next week I will call them. It would be worth a try to see if she is a chaser.

Oh goodie, my daughter just called and she is going to send a note to school with my Grandson so that I can pick him up rather than having him go to daycare. Fantastico! G and I get along well unless he’s feeling frisky and oppositional. He’s a really smart little boy and he likes to pit that smart little brain against Grammy’s brain. Grammy isn’t used to thinking on her feet against smart little boys.

He also likes to tell “stories.” Last night on the phone he told me he had skipped all the way up to 5th grade. Not too long ago he told me he thought he had flunked kindergarten. He had me convinced he believed that. That’s the third time he has caught me with his “stories.” From now on I don’t believe a word he says until I check it with his parents. <heh>

Update on the adoption process. The mother has decided to fight the state’s decision to terminate her parental rights. It may be three or more years before the baby is released for adoption and the mother could prevail. I am afraid for my daughter. This could get really messy. I am very proud of her for hanging in there though.

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The house and barn at Sugar Maple Farm were set into a grove of big old Sugar Maple trees at the top of a big hill. You could see for miles and miles in all directions.Especially if you were in the hayloft of the Farmer’s barn. TigerLily and her brothers and sisters played in the hayloft often because like most cats they were good at climbing.


Yeller wasn’t. He didn’t have the kind of claws kittens had that help them climb.

He got very frustrated when TigerLily clambered up a horse stall and peeked at him from the hayloft mewing giggles when they were playing tag.

It just wasn’t fair and he’d “Yelp” grumpily at her and go find a corner to sulk in. He really wanted to go up in that hay loft and look around.

One day when TigerLily was in the hayloft she saw something beautiful in the Farmer’s south pasture. It was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen.


She had to show this to Yeller so she scrambled down the hayloft ladder and scampered out the door streaking across the barn yard to where Yeller and his brothers and sisters were wrestling in one big furry ball of puppies.

She could hear Yeller yelping when his sister flipped him head over heels. It sounded like he was having a lot of fun.


Yeller saw TigerLily sitting safely on top of a fence post out of the way and trotted over yelling Hello as loud as his lungs would let him. Yeller made a lot of noise every where he went. TigerLily smiled a sweet kitten smile and purred softly.

She led the way to the top of the knoll where they could see the South pasture and Yeller could not believe his eyes. What were all those brightly colored things in his Farmer’s pretty green meadow? TigerLily shrugged her tiger striped shoulders and led the way down the hill.


“Oh Michael, look at this pretty little kitten. She’s adorable with these tiger stripes and that little nose the color of Tiger Lilies.” said a beautiful woman with pretty green eyes and a nice smile.

“She sure is a cute one, Kerryn, but take a look at this little yellow pup that’s following her. I’d sure like to have a dog like him someday. I wonder what they are doing out here together?”

He leaned down to scratch Yeller behind the ears which made Yeller so happy he almost wagged his tail right off! What a nice human! Kerryn scooped TigerLily up and petted her until she purred louder than Yeller had ever heard her purr. He liked these people almost as much as he liked his Farmer and the Farmer’s Wife.

Kerryn was holding some colorful silky cloth up. Flames shot from a cannister that stood near Michael who was holding the opening of the big silky bag near it, letting the air inside get hot. As it billowed and filled with air they would gather more and hold it up and let the air take it as it filled up like a balloon. But it was so big. It couldn’t be a balloon could it?

Yes, it could! A hot air balloon. But the best part was yet to come!

Yeller and TigerLily sat down in the shade of a bush near the young couple to watch the people filling their balloons with air. They could scarcely sit still with excitement at all the beautiful colors and designs. Once in awhile they could see their Farmer and his Wife and their children moving through the meadow talking to the people filling the big balloons with air.


Suddenly all the balloons were full of air and towering over the meadow. Yeller and TigerLily raced back up the hill to watch the balloons. The Farmer and his family were already there watching the balloons taking off into the blue sky.  What a pretty sight!

Yeller barked and yelled as loud as he could to say Goodbye to the magnificent balloons as one by one they left lifted up in the air and left Maple Sugar Farm.


Then they heard familiar voices calling “Goodbye! Goodbye, Maple Sugar Farm! Goodbye little kitten! Goodbye Puppy!” It was the handsome young man and the beautiful young woman who had petted and played with them earlier.  They were rising up in a wicker basket attached to the most beautiful balloon of all.

Yeller danced around yelping his excitement! TigerLily weaved in and out between theFarmer’s legs purring her soft purr. The farmer’s son, Gabe scooped up Yeller and his daughter, Rose, gently lifted TigerLily up in her arms. They all waved goodbye to Michael and Kerryn.


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The first time ever I saw your face
I thought the sun rose in your eyes
And the moon and the stars were the gifts you gave
To the night and the empty skies my love
To the night and the empty skies

Roberta Flack

I am waxing nostalgic today thinking back to the births of my children. My daughter’s birth especially since she has just brought a new life into my life. I’m to become a Grammy again if all goes well. My daughter is in the process of adopting an 8 month old baby girl.

Her mother still has time to change her mind although the state will pursue termination of parental rights if she does not volunteer to surrender the child for adoption. Her brother and sister have different fathers who want them.

I was almost 22 when my daughter was born in May of 1974. Her brother was three years old. She was overdue by one day, the day after Mother’s day on the 13th of May. We had a record high of 102* that day and as we were driving to Aurora, Nebraska where the hospital was her Dad and I saw two tornadoes touch down in distant fields. Luckily they small and they were moving away from us.

I was certainly ready to greet the little person who had been causing me so much discomfort for over a month. She had been in position to be born and I had been dilated 1 centimeter since April 7th. The doctor was going to induce labor on the 15th if she didn’t move out because he was afraid she had decided to take up permanent residence.

I wanted a little girl and Skip and I had a bet going on. Of course we didn’t know the genders of our babies back then. There were sonograms but they were very primitive and they were only done if absolutely necessary and telling the parent the gender of their child if you could tell from the blurry images was considered somewhat unethical. They might abort if it wasn’t the gender they wanted. :^\

We’d left for the hospital much earlier than we’d planned because of those darned tornados. It looked like it was going to be a repeat of our son’s birthing experience. He was born during a flash flood February 5th 1971 in Jackson, Michigan. Skip was not looking forward to a repeat of that and neither was I.

We’d arrived at the hospital at 8 pm at night the night before our son was born just to check if I was really in labor because we lived 35 miles out in the country and didn’t want to leave the city if I was, certain we would be iced in by the next morning. The car had stalled 5 times getting us to the hospital.

The nurses determined I was definitely in labor and further decided that because of the weather and the reports they were receiving from the state patrol, that I should not leave the hospital even though they would normally send me home because I was in the early stages of labor.

It was going to be a long night. My son was not born until 5 o’clock the next morning. I didn’t think-anything like that was going to happen with this baby but I was hoping that my water would at least break before we got to the hospital.

The first thing we did was go to a cafe so Skip could get something to eat. We’d rushed off so quickly he hadn’t had time to eat and neither had I. I knew I shouldn’t eat but I was so hungry I ordered a small bowl of chicken noodle soup easy on the noodles. We lingered at the cafe as long as we could stand it, smoking and talking, but we soon ran out of things to say and I felt the need to be up and moving.

We drove over to the city park and walked around timing my pains until they were at the 5 minute mark. It was now 7:30 and Skip was bored spitless. We got back in the truck and Skip started driving around aimlessly. Then he found it, only three blocks from the hospital. A used car lot.

We drove in and Skip started looking at cars, kicking tires. He’d pause in his perusal to time my pains but while he looked I could concentrate on pacing and riding out the waves of labor pain. We were both happy. Pretty soon a salesman joined us and Skip started dickering about the various merits of one car over another as “a present for my wife here, when she has this baby.” I snickered at that little bit of chatter.

An hour went by and somewhere along the line I had stopped pacing and had taken hold of Skip’s hand, standing there squeezing while a pain came and went and he timed them and calmly talked to the used car salesman about foreign cars versus domestic cars. He was looking at a Mazda.

Every once in awhile he would say something like “Wow! that was a doozy Honey! They ‘re 45 seconds long and a minute and a half apart! Good job! You let me know when you’re ready to go.” and I concentrated on the sound of his voice and the inner workings of my body.

Eventually they got to a minute and a half long and a minute and a half apart and I knew it was time to go. I think that poor salesman thought we were absolutely crazy and maybe we were a little bit. He was probably relieved to see our red pick-up truck driving down the highway towards the hospital.

My daughter was born ten minutes after I got to the hospital. The doctor was there delivering another woman’s baby and he came in to examine me and asked if he could break my water. I said yes and she practically fell out into his hands.

I got my car too! A little powder blue Volkswagen Beetle. But not from that poor salesman who went through the final stages of labor with us. I was totally surprised the day Skip came driving it home.

What I remember most of all about seeing her for the first time is her beautiful little hands. She still has beautiful hands. I love to look at them. They are so elegant. She has long elegant arms and legs too.

When she was a baby she was a skinny little thing and had a little potbelly, huge eyes, and no hair. My sisters-in-law all told me she was homely as hell. I thought she looked like a cute little spider monkey. She wasn’t going to win any pretty baby contests but she was a sweet little thing and you should see how gorgeous she turned out. I haven’t seen any of their daughters since they were pre-teens but I know damn good and well there isn’t one of them that can hold a candle to her in achievment and spirit. Besides she was my baby and it didn’t matter what she looked like, I loved her.


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