Remembering Grandma

Publish date:

I realized when I looked at the calendar this morning that it was 16 years since Grandma Martha died of breast cancer. The night before she passed, I told her (as she lay staring with open eyes--I don't know if she even heard me) that I'd think of her every day for the rest of my life. I'm pretty sure I have. Sometimes it's sheer nostalgia that conjures the memories; other times it's when I discover some genealogical fact about our lineage that would have surprised and amazed her.

At still other times I watch my sister with her kids and imagine the delight my grandmother would have taken in my niece and nephew--and the pleasure (possibly amazement) at the outstanding mother my sister turned out to be. (You see, my sister didn't seem to care much about kids as an adolescent and young adult, and she married after Grandma was gone.)

The poem below is one I wrote about 20 years ago about a special Sunday Grandma and I shared. Sometimes I swear I can still hear her humming those hymns. 


for Grandma Martha

The Sunday before Grandma’s surgery

we sit along the bank

beside the General Store

at Rabbit Hash.For an hour

we have debated taking the ferry

to Rising Sun, but the boat

chugs in, chugs out

and we stay put, lulled

by the backwash lapping

the stubbled beach.

Grandma talks

about rivers.Immersion,

she states, is the only

salvation, to hell with sprinkling

over marble basins.At fifteen,

pregnant, she swam each day

across the shallow tributary

near her home, buoyed

by her extended belly,

until Great-Grandma made her stop.

“I never was afraid

of a river,” she swears, eyeing

the ever-present ferry

which seems always to be just

leaving.We could sit like this

all day, putting crossings off

as Grandma hums snatches

of old-time gospel hymns

where water saves, and the Almighty

pilots the holy ship to Zion.

(from Rites and Observances [Finishing Line Press], (c)2004)


From Script

A Fond Farewell to Netflix’s Lucifer, Writing Video Games, and Do Experts Stand in the Way of Your Writing Goals?: From Script

In this week’s round up brought to us by, exclusive interviews with Lucifer TV writer Chris Rafferty and video game writer Ian Ryan. Plus, learn about screenwriting trailblazer France Goodrich Hacket, who co-wrote It’s a Wonderful Life, and advice on when and when not to approach a writing expert to reach your writing goals.

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Misusing Dialogue Tags

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Misusing Dialogue Tags

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so we started this series to help identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's writing mistake writers make is misusing dialogue tags.

Poetic Forms

Boketto: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, Walter J. Wojtanik shares his relatively new form, the boketto.

Paul Neilan: On Implementing Dark Humor

Paul Neilan: On Implementing Dark Humor

In this article, author Paul Neilan explains how he came up with the idea for his mystery and dark comedy novel The Hollywood Spiral.


Deborah Hall, 2020 Writer's Digest Poetry Awards Winner

The winner of the 2020 Writer’s Digest Poetry Awards discusses the inspiration behind her first-place poem, “The Loneliest Whale."

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Split Up

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Split Up

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, have your characters split up.

Kerry Winfrey: On Writing a Romance that's Cozy and Comforting

Kerry Winfrey: On Writing a Romance that's Cozy and Comforting

Author Kerry Winfrey wrote her latest romance, Very Sincerely Yours, during the 2020 pandemic to comfort herself. Here, she's explaining why that tone is important for readers.


The 2020 Writer's Digest Poetry Awards Winners

Congratulations to the winners of the 2020 WD Poetry Awards!


Your Story #113

Write a short story of 650 words or fewer based on the photo prompt. You can be poignant, funny, witty, etc.; it is, after all, your story.