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God Bless Your Smile (1 Viewer)



      I went with my 95 year old grandmother about 2000 miles by bus through Canada and across the interior of Alaska this Summer.
        On the trip, she didn't talk about her need to get to the restroom; she didn't talk about her difficulty on stairs; she didn't talk about her difficulty walking except when she needed to grab me for balance. There is iron in her determination not to talk about things. 
        One lady from Oklahoma behind us said succinctly, "Your grandma could eat nails and spit out the rust".  
        A professor from the University of Iowa grabbed her by the hands in the middle of the trip and said, "If I have the privilege of living as long as you do, I want to be like you."  
         My friend Jeff, in Haines, remarked, as we went on a two hour round-trip drive to his house in Haines and spent the afternoon in his parlor visiting his family, "your grandmother's posture is remarkable." 
       There was an old Texan lady who sat next to us on the bus. Her hair was dyed red hair and she quietly whimpered when she was uncomfortable. She could have blown off the bus from Dawson Canada back to Dallas Texas where she came from and it would have been a week before anyone noticed she was missing. 
        What is it that sets a person apart? 
       We seem to get smaller from our talk. 
        Grandma talks about nothing and projects a great stature wherever she goes. 
        I think words are like iron. When we spit them out, sometimes we lose the magnet that galvanizes love and respect in other people. It seems to me that people instinctively understand that some forms of talk are a replacement for the grit and courage we should have. People admire instinctively what is unstated much more than what is stated. 
        When grandma's arms tremble, as she grips the rails and lifts herself off the bus, and says, "no, I don't need any help", people turn and arms gently reach out toward her to guide her off. A man in his fifties becomes a gentleman and escorts her off. 
        "God bless your smile, young lady", the man says putting his arm around her. 


Thanks for the kind reply. I wrote this because I was in awe of my grandmother and trying my best to figure her out on this trip. I think that our elders often keep some mysteries to themselves. I've spent so much time trying to think about what it is makes her tick... Anyway, thanks again--
Take Care,


Yes, I agree with you about the unique role of writers to "spy" on themselves, and to search the mystery of their experience. I suppose, I think of the African American understatement such as, "no one knows the trouble I've seen"... I think that writing, as well as our representation to others is a game sometimes of concealing in order to reveal.
Again, my question really was: how is my grandmother able to garner so much love with such understatement? My contention is that she actually "says" more, by what she conceals, like the Mona Lisa. This, to me, is a fascinating power.
We assume that we're so enlightened because we talk about everything. "Talk Shows" are representative of how we handle everything. But, what my grandmother chooses to conceal about her own personal pain and discomfort, actually represents a deeper symbol to other people. It is something they love. Words, in her case, would actually obstruct meaning.
Hard to talk about these things. There are many lessons to learn from this art of concealing...
Thanks so much for your thoughtful response... I look forward to reading your postings.


Senior Member
what a wonderful gift to your grandmother this piece is... i hope you've printed it up on nice paper in a nice font and framed it for her... as humble as she seems to be, she probably won't display it, but it will warm her winding-down heart nevertheless...

you're a fortunate person to have had that time with her and a wise one to have gained so much insight from the experience... bless you both!

love and hugs, maia [a comparative youngster of 66]


Thanks for your thought and your blessings maia,
You're right. I am truly gifted with this opportunity to learn from my grandmother.
I'm thirty two and most of us have lost our grandparents by that time. I have had the opportunity to ask and re-ask her many questions... Most of all, I ponder at the mystery that I will never understand: how she can be the vitality, the life-blood of our family.
When people comment about how sweet my grandmother is, my general reply is, "yeah, sweet as barbed wire!"
She's got the sweetest smile, but a grip and determination that makes me feel like I'm from the whimpy generation.
Last year, she had colon surgery. She woke up with a spinal injection of morphine in her back. As soon as she realized it was a pain killer, she ordered the doctors to take it out-- and would only take asperin for pain. I sometimes think she was cut out of a differnt quality of oak. At any rate, you can see pictures of her at 95 years old if you look under Alaska cruise at my web site:
Last year, she flew in a helicopter and landed on a glacier. It inspires me when I think of what she's done.

Take Care,

I haven't posted on this forum yet... My general rule is to reciprocate by reading and responding to anyone who has the courtesy to read my posts. I posted on the poetry forum... and it took a while to get back to everyone. I appreciate the responses very much and will be mindful of your pieces as I navigate the non-fiction section more frequently.


Senior Member
i don't post work here except a poem now and then, paul, as i monitor writers' boards just to help wherever i can... but feel free to browse the work on my site, if you're curious...

and send lots of my hugs to your grandma, will you?... a helicopter to a glacier!... my kinda woman!

hugs galore, maia

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