Tuesday, June 10, 2014



Grace at  dversepoets.com  has us writing about ancestors in our family today; I had
 a desire to write about my mother and aunt, sisters from the 20's through the 90's ..

They grew up on 14th Street
5 blocks from bustling downtown/
Portland's park blocks, rose gardens,
president's on horseback in
statuary bronze
Through my childhood eyes I saw
homeless on benches, pigeons,
kicked leaves and ate ice cream cones 
Much as my mother and aunt did,
a generation ago

Margaret, my mother, 
had an inquiring mind; 
My  Aunt Jean, was the
brave mother of 3 boys
Sisters for 20 years 
before I came along
Their history together 
meant shared dreams/secrets, 
a strange elderly neighbor 
like one Miss Havisham 
I slept in their old room 
with tall windows, 
decorated with blue/violet 
hydrangea drapes and wallpaper; 
we played with Margaret and Jean's
dolls and wind up music boxes, 
the vintage brush and mirror

There was a step stool to reach 
the bathroom sink; a soft rug
to step on by the claw foot tub
The old house with high ceilings
echoed their voices,
piano practice/ laughter 
and screams
They listened to baseball on
the radio,
read and studied hard 
I remember a copper toned
 spaniel with long ears, sad eyes
 - Kim was her name
The kitchen was a good size;
 Grandma packed sack lunches,
roast beef sandwiches, soup
She added fruit and cookies,
a thermos of hot chocolate,
Grandpa took the bus to
the pharmaceutical company,
newspaper under his arm

I remember backyard sprinklers, 
lilacs tall, roller skates with a key/
simmering oatmeal on the gas stove,
I imagine the same scenes 
while they were growing  up,
 buggies and streetcars in the street
old model T's -
The brown turkey baking,
scent of freshly mowed grass
(we watched the blades turn 'round)
We helped pull clothes through the wringer
of the old washing machine, 
hung them out to dry on
 the taut clothesline
As youngsters we stayed many times
in that house where they grew up -
where nothing much had changed
(except the addition of
 a box called TV)
Next door were the gas 
and fire stations/
sirens in the night

Attractive and well mannered,
both held jobs, went to college,
They could have gone far 
with their talents -
They could have worked as waitress,
but were fortunate and
 married well;
 they stayed home, raised families
Careers then for women were rare..
they were lucky gals
Heaven knows they guided us well, 
taught us values and how to 
be strong, standing firm, 
as nurse, scout leader, 
friend in times of need,
 cheerleader of little league

Never again will I see such a pair,
Wholesome gals, honest and true
They had nice legs to boot,
 so wore swimming suits well -
relished life with confidence
Sources of unconditional love, 
ready to laugh or sacrifice 
Their voices sounded much alike,
perfect teeth when they smiled
Similar in appearances, 
they cared for one another,
yet their demeanor distinct 
They learned from their grandmothers, 
 pioneers who crossed the prairie,
propensities for art and sewing
Born in the 20's, 
they lived through depression/ war, 
valued the dollar,
cried for FDR

I was the eldest of 4,
my cousins were 3..
now many more in the family tree
In 1975, we lost one sister;
Jean cried for my Mom
In a Columbus Day storm, 
wind took the roof off my aunts family home
Margaret had empathy for Jean
Soon after becoming grandmothers,
their lives cut shorter than most//
started smoking in college,
which was common;
they stopped too late, of course
 Now, their great grandchildren bear 
their traits, grins, and eyes -
immortality in one sense 
But forever they will be
together in our hearts as sisters //
God's testament to giving and grace,
important keys in our lives....


  1. Very lovely story telling of your mother and aunt ~ I can imagine them growing up and you visiting their house and listening to their stories ~ Too bad they died young after becoming grandmothers ~ I was fortunate enough to have 1 grandmother who lived to 93 years and still hold my first born ~ Enjoyed this personal portrait of your family Kathy ~

  2. smiles...so cool how close they were to each other...great friends through it all...
    the old house sounds a bit like my grammas place...so many different treasures and stories
    in all the little ecclectic things in her house...most of my grands were dead by the time
    i was ten...i have one gramma that outlived all...and maybe even us...smiles.

  3. I love the image you paint of these women, as sisters, confidantes, mothers. Together in life, together in passing. Lovely.

  4. What a beautiful story Kathy so much I related to. The old wringers I remember. My mother got her finger caught in it one day. So much of this rich history is lost today in a world of the immediate and the disposable. I agree that you see the faces and characteristics of our parents and grand parents in the faces of our children. It is often uncanny the resemblances that resurface in the next generation. Two of my boys bear a resemblance to my mother's father who died well before I was born but the photos show him as a young man looking remarkably like two of my sons. I enjoyed very much your family tale.

  5. Oh I so loved reading this poem about them. I could see them, and that family kitchen, and their lives.............just a wonderful read! And I had one of those wringer washers too when I was first married........I still love clothes on the clothesline......

  6. I was fortunate, in a way, to have been born when my mother was 17, so the grandparents were available to me until my 40's; rare indeed for a boomer, a child of the 50's. This poem of yours reads like Americana itself. Cancer killed my parents before life took my grandparents. "A parent should never have to bury their children," said my grandmother; hear, hear.

  7. Wow, what a fascinating story. You have really brought this part of your family history to life & have included the kinds of details that make this a slice of American life.

  8. giving and grace are wonderful keys... and wow...what a history...i felt like i was watching a movie...really cool katy

  9. What a story.. Playing in an old house like that.. I felt like I was watching a photo-album with you.. Such an interesting take on the changes we have been through.

  10. I enjoyed the story of your mother and aunt. You must be glad you know so much of it. It would be easy to write a novel based on such a rich background.

  11. This is wonderful in all the details, so vivid.

  12. It's family stories such as this that makes this kind of prompt worth doing. Getting these glimpses of the poets through their ancestry is rather rewarding. We reach an understanding that is of great value.

  13. such an engaging story almost like a movie...enjoyed every bit of it....a wonderful write...

  14. Most fascinating account. You are most fortunate to have the presence of an aunt and your mother during childhood - growing up.. They can be the guiding lights in your development which many may not have the benefit of! Great write Kathy!



  15. I think when we have close family near, they weave a richness in our lives that we would otherwise have missed.

  16. It sounds like a wonderful family. There is a special relationship between sisters, as you point out with the lines, "Sisters for 20 years/ before I came along/ Their history together..." I'm sorry that history didn't go on longer. Lovely poem Kathy. I'm now your 81st follower! :o)

    1. Thank you....they both lived to be in their late 60's and early seventies, so knew the grandkids while they were young. Welcome, Mary. ;)

  17. Lovely story. They had nice lives which is a good reason for marrying well:)

    1. Yes, lifelong happy marriages where commitment was everything ..thanks.


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