05 March 2014

Adopt a Grandmother

Grandmother, brother Peter and me at the Catskill Game Farm

Mine wasn't, she was more
and less than the stereotypical
soft-cheeked woman with cookies
on sitcoms and in commercials.

She worked for one thing—as art teacher—
in three elementary schools using a cart
and her car as storage and desk
with her dining room table as an extension.

She hired me to sew hems, polish
piano legs and dust photographs
in the vast Victorian she owned
and lived alone in, unafraid.

She wasn't a mother either, but more
and less than mine whose job was us children
while super grandmother gardened, painted,
commanded and drove us, sometimes crazy.

Away from home, I adopted grandmothers—
old women with public and private strength—
witches in another time and place with 
magic names as mentors and models.

Like Mary Hunter Wolf who led improv
workshops through her very own American
Shakespeare Theatre—now defunct.  Think of it:
Mary, Hunter and Wolf power and faith!

Like Ellen Stewart, the mama of LaMaMa
Experimental Theatre Club, the Mama
of Off-Off Broadway, the champion of
international diversity on stage.

Shall I name all my grandmothersMarys
and Ellens, Bernices, Sojourners and
radicals?  Or just tell you how—though alone
and childlessI am ready to be one?

Posted for my prompt Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Honoring Woman/Women's Achievements.  This is a work in progress.

Copyright © 2014  S.L.Chast


  1. Strong female role models set you up for exploring life. having one by birth is fortunate and more immediate but as you say we can look to the world for others..maybe they adopt us too! Great piece and prompt for this week thank you

  2. Beautiful portrait of your grandmother. She sounds like a real treasure, a keep. My grandmother was so not kind toward us, that's actually good subject for a poem, I shall write it anyday.

    Is this poem an expression of how much you want the title?


  3. OH! MY! GODDESS! do I love this poem. All the heroic women with the great names (especially Sojourner Truth, what a name!) I love Adopt a Grandmother - I used to put ads in for babysitting that said Rent a Grandma! It worked! I love this whole poem so much and most especially the final stanza. Wowzers!

  4. Ah, I do remember that in grade school we had art teachers who went from classroom to classroom with carts! (Mention of your grandmother tweaks my memory.) How neat that you adopted grandmothers. I wish I would have done that when I was young, as I only knew ONE of them, but she died when I was six. I like YOUR choices of grandmothers. Excellent role models, which is (I think) part of what a grandmother should be. I do hope some now adopt you as a grandmother. I know you would fill the role well!

  5. My earliest memories are of Grandma Davies, and looking out the window for Grandpa to come home from work. I lived with my MacKenzie grandparents for a while when I was two, while Mom struggled with her health and the health of my newborn brother. I was very happy.
    I was very fortunate, because I knew both of my grandmothers well. I am childless but my husband isn't, so I get to be Grandma Kay, aka Nana Kay, without having been a mother.
    I hope you are adopted by some children who love and appreciate you.
    Hugs, K

  6. Strength is another name for woman who helps souls to evolve on their life's long journey....the lines evoke so many wonderful images...
    and the end is so poignant....

  7. Strong and thought provoking.

  8. Wow! How interesting, Susan! What the source to grow and be creative... To great women! xx

  9. I enjoyed what you tell us about your grandmother. These memories are very sweet. One of my grandmothers died a month before my birth but the other was a kind old lady who played cards with us and taught us kindness through the way she lived her life.

  10. Susan,

    Love that you are sharing and extolling the virtues of those strong women and their characters. The influence of a granmother is of great importance, and long lasting.
    I think you can be easily adopted as a grandmother Susan, as you have those virtues to share:)

  11. cool. i love art...i used to volunteer as the art assistant when i was working evenings...sometimes drove you crazy...smiles...sounds like she did things though that would be fascinating to children. i barely knew my grandmother...my other grandmother was not much for kids...

  12. Loved the poem! My grandmother is such a treasure to me as well, and i like how you set up the title "grandmother" to be more than just family related, but more based on inspiration, and then asking out if you are ready to be one, even thought you are childless...Being a grandmother is simple, be kind to those around you, offer them wise tips on life, and people will one day see you as their grandmother!

  13. This is fabulous Susan my grandmother raised me in part and I was very close to her and rest-assured she was very feisty lol

  14. I like the idea of adopting a Grandmother.My Great Aunt never had children but looked after children for her entire life. She was lovely.
    Beautiful poem.

  15. Brilliant poem, Susan, and I love what it says.

  16. you are one who make me think through your poems.very inspiring and intrigued.

  17. brilliant tribute to womanhood and caring

    much love

  18. What a great thought.. those women.. and how many of them where art teachers, if they had been men they would have been artists...

  19. Grandmothers are some of my favorite people. This is beautifully told Susan. Your close twisted my heart...hope you are adopted!!


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