My grandmother was the salt of the earth,

My name for her was always M’amie (Mah’ Mee)

I still see her crocheting in her own “Morris” chair,
Making waffles Sunday nights just for me.

I’d beg for a trip to the “Clam House” - so rare.

We’d walk there together, we three,

Fill ourselves with fried clams, walk home in the dark,

Warren, M’amie and me.

Making homemade root beer in the cellar was fun,

Though she preferred Moxie, so strong,

That it puckered my face, and fizzed up my nose,

Like tiny sparkler lights, lasting so long.

She’d heat her heavy iron on an old fashioned stove,

Heating handkerchiefs for me to feel,

And learn while still small that hot really meant “Hot!”

Touching stoves, I’d have blisters to heal.

She’d slip us some nickles to buy candy bars,

For us Charleston Chews, Butterfingers.

Soft Mars Bars were for her old-fashioned false teeth.

Memories of her kindness still lingers.

In wartime we’d eat succotash and real tongue,

I’d choke on the latter and hear

Of children dying in Africa, far, far away.

For lack of such food they’d hold dear.

Only once did she shock me, it blew me away,

She rarely spoke of what newspapers wrote,

She said, “The worst thing that’s happened in this USA

Was when women were given the vote!”

Her wardrobe so different from what we wear now,

Sturdy shoes laced up so high,

“Your grandmother wears army boot s, they might now rudely

That they were ugly, I can not deny.

Still young she bought her own “funeral dress”,

Kept it safe in a box ‘neath her bed.

I wondered if all grandmothers did such an odd thing.

Prim and proper, she was “looking ahead”.

When her ice box was full, the ice man would come,

We’d crowd ‘round his truck in the shade,

Eating slivers of ice he handed to us,

More delicious than cold lemonade.

Watching him cut huge blocks of ice,

Carrying it in on his shoulder

Was a marvel to see, as we stood far away.

We missed him when we grew older.

I’d help M’amie and my mother washing clothes each week,

Each piece squeezed through wringers rolled tight.

I never squished my fingers placing clothes in those wringers,

Though I always thought that I might.

Each week the “Fruitman” came by our house

To sell fruits and veggies - his wares

Then M’amie grew a garden so large and so ripe,

He’d buy from her - prices quite fair.

We’d watch “Magic Lantern” shows or play games in the eve,

She’d beat me at checkers that slid

So fast ‘cross that board, strategy was ignored,

It was too hard to learn for us kids.

When I’d grown, I’d visit, or she’d visit me,

She’d present my favorite gift,

Fresh homemade apple strudel, fit for a queen,

She knew how to give me a lift.

I always knew she was proud of me,

At graduation she bought me a card,

It was “IF” - for girls, and I keep it today,

Remembering her love is still hard.

Growing up, I realized a very strange thing,

Mon amie in French means “my friend,”

The last words I heard that grand lady say,

“I love my people” - what a wonderful end.

Having a grandmother so dear, I always had dreams

Of having my turn being one too.

Now eight precious children call “Nana” to me,

And I know that my dreams have come true.


Virginia Atkinson


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