Before my grandmother died I saw stories in her eyes
Back in sandy summers we’d rise in harmony with the dawn
Her memories carry the scent of coffee beans grinding up
Our first morning exchanges-life lessons
In preparation for the day she would say,
“I have to go put on my face”
Powdered make-up, forgiving green eyes,
Soft wrinkles in her smile; it was all so beautiful
And if I am to ever embody her beauty
It will have been a life well lived
We come from a long line of strong women
They leave to us this precious inheritance
The oppressed memories leak pain, for she was a single mother
Abandoned; economically stripped of hopeless crumpled dollars
Abused; bore the weight of the world on frail shoulders
With all of its disparities-gendered history.
She carried the pride of her ancestry; Irish woman
She faced the shame of a family inheritance; alcoholic tradition
Frightened woman; forced to seek meals from a social security savior
With two growing children and no college education
Odds were never in her favor. Bottled up regrets were useless
Empty bottles were useless. She needed to save her children
So she fought to discover her strength through rehabilitation
Plucked her children from the toxic cycle of dependence
She’d pass me life lessons over morning coffee,
Of conflicted days working to abandon life’s damaged decisions.
Battling for her sobriety, she filled stale brokenness with wisdom
Paving the way for future generations; our children
Life lessons expressed in her two failed marriages
Though, she never knew herself to inspire independence.
Finally returning her exhausted last name to its original state
She’d say that she intended to die that way: Liberated
I have her to thank
Woven in her memories, I see strength.
But before she died I saw stories in her eyes
In that very first light of the morning
Magnificent rays peeking over the horizon,
Saturated by nothing. A glorious morning;
It is as glorious as the person you spend it with
Born. Raised. Passed away.
Someday my children may also rise with the morning
As if synchronized with that rich melon in the sky
In this space I will pass on her story
For she only ever wanted to be part of a legacy.