February (Grandmother)

Below is a little illustrated story I wrote about one of my grandmothers some time ago that I am posting for a dVerse Poets Pub, memoir prompt,  hosted by Victoria C. Slotto. I’m sorry the pics are so bad; clearer versions can be found here (where you can see as a slide show).  I’ve typed out the text below.











February was a month my grandmother just couldn’t take anymore. She would look out the window and wish away grey.

Sometimes she had a little dog. She wasn’t supposed to have a little dog but she’d make up some excuse.

She loved to look at it perk up by the window. The one I remember had a sharp little tail, perked by definition.

Sometimes, in February, she’d get sick, and we would fly out there, then drive. The hospital was a long straight road away in Minnesota, a curvy one in Iowa.

I watched the shoulders. The twists in Iowa came out of nowhere and the road was edged by a sudden sassy lip like the ones that tortured teacher. My mother was a teacher, and every time we skidded across that gravelly edge she cursed all Republicans who, in her mind, refused to pay for public works.

One February, my grandmother got sick in Washington, D.C., my hometown. She had the most beautiful stark white hair.

I was very brave decisive. Seeing that the hospital stay convinced my grandmother that she was about to die, I got my mom to take her out. Against doctors’ orders.

The next day she was so much better she jumped from bed to a little portable potty then ate a big breakfast, smiling as she stole secret spoonfuls of jam, a sure sign that life will go on.

One February sometime later, she came to me on a school bus. I was careful not to tell her she had died. So fearful was I that she would leave again, I did not speak to her at all.

I sat in a place she might not see, tears streaming. Her cloud of stark white hair looked almost solid.

(I might edit the text if I were redoing today, but it’s written on the pics.) All art is original; all rights reserved.

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41 Comments on “February (Grandmother)”

  1. kkkkaty1 Says:

    This is one big memory…packed with one little girl’s thoughts and feelings and the artwork makes it so real to the reader…very rich indeed as what sticks with you is the silver white cloud;)

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks, I’m so sorry it didn’t come out better. I am in the middle of a big move and all of those things – watercolors are packed in some box somewhere. Thanks much. k.

  2. hedgewitch Says:

    This is so real, k. I had dreams like that of my grandmother for years after she died–wish I could still have them, but she seems to have moved on. Your narrative is stark and light as the white hair, and has many spoonfuls of jam for the reader. Best of luck with moving, and hope you avoid the worst of the oncoming snowmageddon.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      You know, I didn’t focus on the storm till this morning, and we were half planning for a big part of move on Monday. Long story short, it makes my weekend a bit difficult, but will be fine, I’m sure in the end. I have several weeks before I actually HAVE to move but I also have a lot coming up this spring, so I’m trying to do it all before the last minute. The bad part of that is having boxes around for weeks, but it will be good to be done even if I spend a few weeks here with suitcase and some kind of foam pad. k.

      • hedgewitch Says:

        Sounds uncomfortable, to say the least, but what can you do–hope at least there are no power outages or other serious upheavals for you, k.

      • ManicDdaily Says:

        Actually, changed all plans and am on the train upstate. I have a bit of time for the move and the thought of being snowed in by myself all weekend amidst the boxes a bit too much to bear. So pearl and I are a bit breathless but hoping to beat the storm.

      • hedgewitch Says:

        Excellent. I’m glad to know Pearl will not be inconvenienced. ;_)

  3. brian miller Says:

    dang k…you have me in tears here myself…i felt it was heading that way…but…i love the art…and you tell the story well…felt..

  4. wolfsrosebud Says:

    …so like wishing the grey away… lovely write

  5. heidi Says:

    Beautiful story! I love the sweet drawings of the grandmother.

  6. janehewey Says:

    absolutely exquisite, karin. I love hearing about your childhood through your eyes on your grandmother -who feels familiar to me. ahhh so loved this.

  7. claudia Says:

    oh heck k. – that moved me to tears..wonderful write…enjoyed the pics as well and what a character your grandma was…like it much

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thank you, Claudia. They were both characters, as most grandmothers are I think. (By that time, people can be themselves!) Hope your daughter is okay in Australia! k.

  8. zongrik Says:

    such a sweet, moving, heartfelt story, and the drawing are adorable

    for the thousandth time

  9. This is precious, a memory to be treasured always and in just the way you’ve done it … child-like wonder and pictures … lovely, endearing … thank you so much for sharing it with us.

  10. Susan Says:

    Is this one of your books? the story is glorious with or without the illustrations which would make a children’s book exquisite. One of my ex-students made a digital story about her grandmother, who also came to her when she died. The grandmother in this story is loving and independent and rather feisty. I love the relationship you depict.

  11. Simply wonderful k. x

  12. David King Says:

    This is absolutely delightful. The wonderful drawings of course add to the delight, but the text stands alone of need be. I find it strong and fully evoking of child-like wonder and curiosity. A treasure trove.

  13. David King Says:

    Oops, sorry. Should have been “if need be”!

  14. Grace Says:

    This is absolutely delightful to read K ~ I love the voice of the child and the illustrations ~ The ending was poignant, its like her soul always want to be with you on the school bus ~

  15. Mary Says:

    This is just beautiful. Story and illustrations. I love the telling from the voice of a child. I think the death of a grandmother is so hard for a child (as they are just kind of swept along with the experience), and the way you told it was heart-breaking. I kept wanting to know what happened to Grandma’s dog…..probably because I sometimes wonder what would happen to my dogs if something happened to me.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks so much, Mary. That is a very good question re the dog. Actually, the timeline in this is not very clear. You know I did the paintings some time ago – I have to find them but I am in the middle of moving right now so they are in some box. I think I probably did write the text on the pictures, which is unfortunate, as I’d probably change them it a bit now (though I can redo a painting too.) But if I redid, I would make the timeline a bit clearer maybe. My grandmother lost her last dog well before she died. The dogs she had were typically strays, since she traveled to stay with family members at times, and they were all against her having dogs because at that time they couldn’t travel. I think she probably had to give that particular dog to someone else.

  16. nico Says:

    Very moving piece–the child’s perspective is beautifully done. They always stay alive in our memories!

  17. I think it’s wonderful just like it is. A very moving piece, k. Well done.

  18. cloudfactor5 Says:

    These lines stood out and grabbed me:
    “One February sometime later, she came to me on a school bus. I was careful not to tell her she had died. So fearful was I that she would leave again, I did not speak to her at all.”
    who’s to believe what we might really see, even ourselves ?
    I enjoyed this!

  19. Oh, Karin, this just gave me the chills. Still! So beautifully recounted. I wonder if this wouldn’t be appropriate for children who are going through loss. Years ago when I worked hospice, we began a bereavement group for children who had lost a parent. Art and poetry played vital roles in their grieving process. Think about publishing it and offering it to hospice organizations and bereavment counselors. Wow.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks so much, Victoria. I had thought of something like that at the time I did it–also I have a whole manuscript of forms for children – and thought of including it in that – Villain-elle, Pant-oum, Hik–u, Sonnet and Daughterette type of thing, though it’s its own thing – and I haven’t been working on that project either! I would probably want to make some parts a bit more “neutral” but it would be a nice project. Thanks much. It was/is a very good prompt. Hope all your projects are going well. k.

  20. A little sad tale. Especially the last part. I am moved.

  21. Laurie Kolp Says:

    This is so touching and wonderfully done… cherished memories do live forever.

  22. Kelvin S.M. Says:

    …Karin, i was touched by your memories of your grandma… perhaps the most heart breaking poem i read today… the last three stanzas give the most saddening feel… fine offering and one i will read back again and again… and i appreciate your artworks… smiles…

  23. hypercryptical Says:

    Beautifully done, bringing tears to my eyes whilst reading its close.

    Anna :o]

  24. lucychili Says:

    beautiful sad story and images

  25. Imelda Says:

    These are very nicely done – both the words and the illustration. Your story is so touching.

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