The first thing I remember is snuggling in my grandmother’s arms. She always smelled like apple kuchen. When the dark dreams threatened, she was always there. Gram, a Swedish immigrant who married a Russian/German immigrant, set out to farm the great dust bowl of Kansas. My gramps wasn’t a farmer, but bootlegging liquor called his name. But yet, Gram’s farmer blood lives on in me, my daughter, my granddaughter, and now, my great granddaughter.

tiny, fearless, Gram
took me in when my mom died
a mother at heart
baking, sewing, gardening—
raised us all to love the land

© Colleen M. Chesebro

For dVerse, where Sarah Southwest asks us to write about our grannies. 

54 thoughts on “Dedicated to Gram, tanka prose

    1. Oh, yes… she was really something. A real mother to me. I have a few photos of the sod house my grandparents started out living in. She told me they used to wet washcloths to put over their faces when they slept at night… the dust and winds were so bad.

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      1. Life was tough for farming people until not so long ago. I can well believe her story about the wash cloths. I have to wear a cloth face mask in bed at the moment to stop my nose freezing!

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    1. Thanks, Merril. I have so many projects. I eventually ended up in foster care growing up, when Gram got too old for me to stay with her. Many of these memories are painful, so I like to remember the good times with Gram. She helped make me who I am today.

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  1. That’s why grandmothers are so wonderful. They are there to step in when grandchildren are in need. So sorry you lost your mother. So happy you had a wonderful grandmother.

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    1. Thank you, David. I recently discovered my grandfather’s family fled from Dreispitz, Russia (in Georgia) in 1906, ending up in Kansas because the land was cheap. They were German immigrants to Russia under Catherine the Great. When the Bolsheviks came to power, they said my people weren’t Russians… and after 100 years in Russia, Germany said my people weren’t Germans! That’s how they ended up in America.

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  2. What a wonderful first thing to remember, Colleen. I think a lot of grandmothers smell of cakes, pastry and bread – and they are mostly tiny too. She seems to have had a great adventure, moving from Sweden to the Kansas dustbowl.

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    1. I will definitely visit and read your poem. Those experiences make us who we are today. My experience was similar. At the age of six, I lived with my dad and step-mother for several years. They were both in their mid 40’s by then, and my step mother never liked children. By the time I reached my teens, I ended up in foster care. But, I turned my life around. At 18, I enlisted in the Air Force and made my way in the world.

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  3. What a lovely tribute to your grandmother, Colleen. None of my grandparents were alive when I was born, but I was blessed with an aunt that was like a grandmother to me. I remember our family reunions in Sturgis, Michigan; her kitchen was always filled with beautiful aromas.❤️

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    1. Oh, that is such a lovely memory, Franci. Because of the dust bowl, my parents and grandparents moved from Kansas to Milwaukee, Wisconsin before WWII. That’s how I came to be born there. Interesting connection with your family to Michigan! 💜

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      1. My father was born in Cold Water, Michigan and my mother was born in Monroe, Louisiana. I believe they met in Pensacola, Florida and I was born in Orlando, Florida. 💖

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  4. Aww, Colleen, this is so sweet. Such a wonderful tribute to your Gram. The home arts of baking, sewing, gardening are becoming lost to time. I’m glad that you and your family garden together, it makes special bonds of heart and spirit, I know your Grams is smiling. Beautiful post. ❤️

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