I don’t remember my Great Grandmother (Nana) ever standing. I only remember her seated. She was in a Lazy Boy chair, dressed in pastel — ancient and small. She lived with my Great Aunt Sue.
At Easter when I visited — along with a thousand brothers and cousins (okay, maybe a couple dozen) — Nana would unfold her one published poem and read it out loud.
I don’t remember Nana’s poem. I only remember that it rhymed and that we, her unruly descendents, were quiet for a few minutes. We shared a single focus. I remember that the grown ups, too, were quiet. Nana was my mother’s grandmother.
On my father’s side, there was my father. He left his job as a newspaper man to work at Young and Rubicam as a PR man. He was never the same. He never regained the status he had as the City Editor for the Chicago Daily Herald.
As a kid, I learned that writers commanded respect. Writers were awesome. Writers were men or women, young or old. And they should be listened to.
My life is in fragments. It is nothing earth-shattering nor outside of the normal fragmented human predicament. At any given moment, I am replying to an email about one of my daughter’s clarinet lessons, while writing a press release about poverty in Haiti, while texting a girlfriend about book club, while phoning the neurologist for my husband’s Parkinson’s Disease appointment.
I don’t read or write nearly enough. I rarely listen to other people’s writing.
I need to go home. Or someplace like a home — like to my Great Aunt Sue’s living room at Eastertime — where I could sit at the foot of a Lazy Boy and listen to a very old woman read a poem.
I want to pay attention to my own voice. To read my words out loud to myself and not be interrupted by the everyday noise of my full time work and family.