Last night I spent some time reading stories and poems written by my great great grandmother who lived to her late 90’s. She was born in 1888 and died when I was in college in 1984. My great grandmother Neola kept a diary each year of her adult life, they weren’t diaries the way we think of diaries today, but they are filled with the basics of every day life in the early years of the century. She talks about their day, the price of things…what they buy, what they make, the work they do…the work ethic alone is astonishing. She speaks of visits to family and friends, weddings, adventures and the sorrow of deaths. Through her daily logs of basic details I’ve seen a routine of life unfold and glimpsed more deeply the life of a woman I loved.

Besides her diaries which I treasure I have some of her poems and a couple stories, which are very well written. Two of poems particularly touched me, one was about the death of her son at Normandy. As I read it I realized no matter how many generations pass the pain of a woman’s loss feels the same. We are connected deeply and fully by the love we share with those in our lives even as they pass and and start their life on the other side of the veil.

This is Neola’s poem. My grandmother was a writer at heart and I think she would be pleased to have me share this poignant poem of memories of a mother who has lost a child. My great great grandmother wrote this poem in 1945.

My Garden
When my heart is filled with sorrow,
As I mourn my son who fell at Normandy.
When I feel my trials and sad sorrows
are more than I can bear.
I steal into my Garden
and find such solace there.
The flowers seem so cheerful,
that it helps me to forget
the ravages of war.
And problems to forget
as I look into their faces
washed clean by mornings dew.
They seem to give me courage
To face the world anew.

Neola B Kiser 1945