Friday, March 25, 2011

The Sun Grows In Your Smile

My grandmother Helen has some difficult things to contend with. She broke her hip in January and now she can't do for herself the way she would like. Many of her contemporaries have passed away, including my grandfather. She feels like she doesn't have much to offer any more. We talked about that when I saw her last weekend. She said that all she has to offer anyone is a smile. That's quite a lot when it comes right down to it, but I pointed out two other things she had given me during our visit -- interesting stories and useful advice. People don't always realize what they are giving.

Knowing my grandmother has given me a number of things:

~ an ability to speak very loudly and clearly when the need arises. My grandmother's been deaf in one ear for as long as I can remember, and she has a hearing aid in the other.
~ a liking for Southern accents. I put my Southern accent on when I am talking to her (and then I am speaking Southern very loudly and clearly!).
~ affectionate memories of the pleasure in her voice when she answered the phone and realized it was me. "Hi, Sugar!" she always said. I can hear her "Hi, Sugar!" so clearly in my head! (I say this in past tense because talking on the phone is not that easy these days, due to her hearing.)
~ a tradition of putting love into your cooking, so you are giving the people who eat your food a deeper kind of nourishment.
~ an appreciation for all kinds of things people make with their hands, particularly of the quilted, knitted, crocheted, and embroidered variety.
~ a love for birds.

Linda Rodriguez generously allowed me to share this poem, which spotlights the power of a smile:

The Sun Grows In Your Smile
by Linda Rodriguez

When you smile, the air grows warm and soft,
the earth is watered with gentle mists,
seeds sprout and spread leaves above the dark, damp soil,
earthworms pierce the crust and frolic across the surface
to the delight of fat, happily hunting robins,
lilies of the valley unfurl beside purple, grape-scented irises,
fat pink and maroon peonies, and gay California poppies,
damask roses hurl their rich fragrance to the wind,
the crazy-with-sheer-joy song of the Northern mockingbird
echoes above other chirps and sweet winged notes,
gardeners join the worms in the warm, rich dirt,
children gallop across yards and grab handfuls of dandelions
to present to mothers who will set them in glasses of water
in kitchen windows or on dining room tables, weeds
glorious after the dark of winter with the color of the sun
that grows and warms and heals in your smile.

From Heart's Migration (Tia Chucha Press), 2010 Thorpe Menn Award for Literary Excellence

Granny and Ben

Mary Lee is hosting the Poetry Friday round-up this week.


Marjorie said...

What a lovely tribute to your grandmother - I hope she sees it and realises how special her gifts are. And I love your photos - the birds are simply adorable (what kind ar they, do you knwo?) but the dandelions made ne laugh. Our small patch of grass is no longer, just a weed-bed with far to many dandelions. Hmm, when they flower, will they make me smile?!?

Mary Lee said...

What a perfect poem for your grandmother! I've given many a bouquet of dandelions to my mother and I've received many from children carrying them (and fresh air) in from spring recess.

Hey, Universe! I'm ready for the first dandelion bouquet of the year! Could we stop with the snow and get busy on the dandelions, please?!?!?!

david elzey said...

you give what you have, and its always the simple things that bring out life's poetry.

thanks for the smile today.

jama said...

What a touching post! Loved hearing about your grandmother and her many gifts. Sweet poem and pictures. :)

Author Amok said...

Hi, Tabatha. Lovely post! I had lunch this week with a friend and her grandmother -- who recently moved in with my friend/her family. What amazing stories she had to tell. There are two lucky great-grandkids who will get to grow up with her around.

Heidi Mordhorst said...

I realized this week, somehow for the first time, that I have no grandparents left. Lucky you! still to have Helen to drawl loudly and clearly at. Your poem is full of all the fecundity of spring, and smiles.

Can't wait to check out the cover videos below! Ooh, my Verification is "unping"!

madelyn said...

I hope your grandmother has computer access!!!

Andromeda Jazmon said...

You are blessed with a wonderful grandmother! Yesterday at the grocery store there was an older woman in a wheel chair that smiled at me and my son. What a blessing she gave us in the midst of hurry and bustle! Your poem brought it back to me just now & I thank God for that smile.

We have a couple dandelions out now, even though we still are getting snow. Crazy!

Linda Rodriguez said...


I loved the photos of the birds, butterflies, and your grandmother. And your essay about your grandmother was so moving. She sounds like such a warm and wonderful woman.



Amy L V said...

What a beautiful post full of appreciation. Thank you, Tabatha, for sharing your grandma and for warming us too. A.