Grandma Alice

Grandma Alice

My grandmother Alice was born in Zurich, Switzerland, and nearly lived to be a 101 years old. I wrote the poem below when we were celebrating her 100th birthday. It was the first time someone in our family had lived this long.

Grandma Alice

I am writing on the page
with your rings on my fingers,
remembering how they sparkled
when you told stories with your hands.

Stories of your travels,
that taxi ride in Jordan,
when you were thrown out in the desert,
hands landing in the sand.

Today you are so frail,
a whisper of a fighter,
when you hold my hand
you become the child I used to be.

We toast your hundredth birthday,
my hands arrange the flowers.
‘Next time I’ll get this many,
it will be my funeral,’ you say.

With one squeeze of your hand
you abseil down our web,
dropping the cord still further.
ready to be free.

With one last wave we say goodbye
and in my heart I am with you,
I hope you will find those places
you never got round to see.

© Xenia Tran

This poem appears in

Book cover for Chiaroscuro - Darkness and Light, Voices from poets - dVerse Anthology

which was published in December 2017 and is now available from Amazon in Europe and North America.

In 2022, we were delighted to learn that Chiaroscuro – Darkness and Light, is going to the moon. It is one of the poetry anthologies selected by Dr Samuel Peralta to be enclosed in time capsules and launched to the Moon, as a message-in-a-bottle to the future.

The Anthology will be part of The Polaris Collection, Dr Peralta’s payload associated with an Astrobotic Griffin/NASA VIPER mission, landing in the vicinity of the Lunar South Pole in November 2024.

You can read more about this collection here and more information about the Lunar Codex here.

The photograph was taken by my great-grandfather when my grandmother was approximately ten years old.

With love from Xenia xxx

Daily Prompt: Generation

dVerse Poets Pub: Poetics – First Things First

dVerse Poets Pub Logo

Nancy Merrill’s A Photo A Week Challenge: Grandparents

Author: whippetwisdom

The stories, poems and photographs on this blog are the original creative work of Xenia Tran. Inspired by life in the Scottish Highlands and in awe of nature she gives voice to the wisdom of her adopted and fostered whippets.

61 thoughts on “Grandma Alice”

    1. Thank you Colin, yes she did and she gave a copy to her English teacher too. She had been taking English lessons in her retirement home until she was around 98. :o)


  1. Very evocative. You made me think of my own grandmother – the women of that generation lived lives that spanned so many changes. I wear my grandmother’s ring, too, it reminds me of her strength. Your grandmother sounds like an amazing woman.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kind words Sarah. She saw a lot of changes and also created many in her own life, always seeming to make her stronger. So wonderful you wear your grandmother’s ring too 💜


  2. Such a poignant, beautiful poem, your love for her shines right through. I really loved your opener…the image of you writing with her rings on your fingers… that says so much and really drew me right in to this wonderful story.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is such a profound blessing and I am moved how your family is now taking care of the grandmother who is now frail, like a child we were once. A lovely tribute to an amazing woman ~

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kind words Victoria. My grandmother retired from her GP practice at 75 and continued to read medical journals until the end because she wanted to stay ‘up-to-date’. I think this all helped and she had many other interests too. I hope you will have a good time with your mother on her birthday. Dementia can be so sad for everyone and I hope you still have a way of connecting with her. 💜

      Liked by 1 person

      1. So wise…I traded in my nursing journals for writing but it is so important to keep mentally active. I admire your grandmother. And my mom and I have had some very meaningful moments together in spite of her dementia…thing is, she doesn’t remember them from one moment to the next. A lesson on living in the present moment.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Your poem/.memory brought tears in the reading, Xenia. How lovely! I would love to know more about that taxi trip. 2 years ago, I lost my beloved Aunt Jean, at almost 102. She was the mother I never really had: she is the reason I became a poet. Even when she couldn’t see the words, she would have someone read it to her and then she would call me: “A thousand, thousand roses to you, daughter Jane!” I miss her so much. At 24, my Aunt Jean was sent back to Hungary to face a Nazi court to try to get her family’s property back but to no good. She was a courage woman, who knew just about every astronaut alive in the US. That was her passion….the Cosmos.
    She was a moral guide for me. And I see her in your Alice. I think this generation has a lot to teach us…I have over 200 hand written letters from Aunt Jean that I treasure. Thank you, Xenia, for this beautiful tribute to your Grandmother Alice.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words Jane ☺ My grandmother had booked a taxi to take her to a historic site in the desert and had agreed the fare with the driver beforehand. Half-way through the journey he told her she would have to pay more if she wanted to continue. She refused, they argued and he threw her out of the taxi. She walked for an hour through the desert before another taxi picked her up. She was 80 years old at the time! Your Aunt Jean sounds like an amazing woman. I wonder whether those 200 letters could become a book? Thank you so much for visiting and lots of love to you all 💖

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Xenia. another person in this family said that she was writing a book (her daughter) but that’s a huge undertaking. Aunt Jean was quite a character. Her parents weren’t wealthy but her grandfather was. Owned villages, woods, mineral rights, etc. They lost these properties because they were proclaimed: gentry. So this is how the Galambos govt. took everything. Aunt Jean was not especially educated….a sign of the times for young Hungarian girls…mostly tutors and some schooling. But she was brilliant. I think she would have found your grandmother a kin. LOL! These women were intrepid. They didn’t let things stop them. Your grandmother was 80 when dumped in the desert??? Wow!!! My Aunt Jean went back to Hungary every year until about 5 before she died. She had then to use a cane and it annoyed her. LOL! These women I think were in much better shape than I am. Thanks for writing back. I think we both come from good stock. Lots of love to you all.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Your aunt Jean sounds amazing and I think she and my grandmother have a lot of similar strengths and qualities. If they were to meet on the other side they will probably get on great. About 30 years ago a distant cousin did some geneology research and discovered Czech, Polish and Hungarian relations on my grandmother’s side of the family tree. I smiled when you told me about your Hungarian aunt, there may be a historic link between our families and I agree that we both come from good stock ☺ Much love to you all 💖

        Liked by 1 person

      3. That’s Wonderful! My mother is from Czech stock, and my father was 100% Hungarian. Perhaps we are related in some way. I would be honored! And yes, if they meet in the beyond, I know that they would be great friends. My Aunt Jean was my mother for the last 20 some years. She was the guiding light in my life. Thank you, Xenia!! I call you cousin. Hugs and love!!!! Out to find Stripy this morning. the woman who bought the house he was staying at has evicted him..her dog chases off Stripy and she demanded that I move the food from outside her fence….(not her property, but these people are stupid) So….I have to go this am and find another place to try to feed Stripy IF he is still around. He would have a great home with me, but he’s stubborn.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Found Stripy this morning. He is apparently still sleeping on this woman’s property…and he came out looking confused when he saw me across and down the street. Luckily, he made it across the street but there is little traffic there. I fed him on the corner where an abandoned house exists….and he was sweet this morning. From a couple of months ago, I couldn’t touch him….he would growl or snap at me, or rake me with his claws….but now? He comes up for a full body massage before food. LOL! He raises up as only cats do for the pats. Cousin Xenia…the pleasure is all mine! Hugs!@

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Bjorn, my grandmother was a very spirited and independent lady! The aunt of your mother in law sounds like an amazing lady and it is so nice when we can celebrate with them ☺


  5. You had me, as well, at /a whisper of a fighter/ & this tribute is beautiful, yet fragile, perfectly suited as a tribute. I wrote a lot of poetry for family members, friends, and lovers–often creating more blush than pride; only my grandfather was tuned into who I was as a poet. I wrote dozens of poems for/about him–& bound them into a little book & gave it to him for his 90th birthday. The book was found beside him on his death bed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kind words and for sharing your beautiful story Glenn. Your grandfather would have treasured that little book of poems and your words would have gone with him on his next journey. Blessings 💜


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