Writing About Grandparents: 4 Works

black window pane with ivy on brick building for One Lit Place at onelitplace.comPhoto credit: Jens Lindner


To write about our grandparents is an honor and an opportunity. To spend time appreciating our grandparents and their role in our lives, is to recognize the beauty in human experience. Taking the time to solidify the character, love, and years our grandparents spent on earth, influencing and affecting others, is to permanently etch our awareness of how they paved the way, toiled, and loved to give rise to the next generations.

One Lit Place community members Tanya Makela, Kathye Fetsko Petrie, Cathy Jeannotte and Gina Buonaguro have written 4 works about their grandparents with lyricism and emotional depth.

Their verse and poetry is a gift. Those few “moments of repose” (Robert Frost), we spend considering our own families and ability to influence others makes us all better writers- and better people overall.


by Tanya Makela

I can see her smile as she sits facing me with her deep set blue eyes, smoothed out lips gently hiding her gums and missing teeth. My baba, her gaze so full of love, adoration, and gratefulness for me being there. She is feeding me and caring for me, as is always her way.

But I also feel her secret, a heavy sadness weighing her soul and petite skeletal earthly frame down. Buried deep, I can see her fierce spirit surfing her wave of history, through war, migration, loss of her children, little triumphs, and ultimately a final surrender to the universe.


~ Tanya Makela



She Loved Me Best

by Kathye Fetsko Petrie

My grandmother lived her life in the shadow of the Appalachian Mountains, in a small upstate Pennsylvania town where people sat on porches and greeted neighbors on summer evenings, and everyone helped each other. Kindness was incorporated in her soul. She believed in the goodness of people.

In my grandmother’s presence, the world felt safe. Her hugs were like benedictions.

When my grandmother died, a cousin said “she loved me best.” We all took umbrage. Then we realized he wasn’t saying he was her favorite, he was saying her love was the purest he had ever felt.

He was right.

~ Kathye Fetsko Petrie


Kathye Fetsko Petrie is a freelance writer/editor whose work has appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Literary Hub, Literary Mama, Bookwoman, The Writer and other publications. A mom of three sons, she also recently became a grandmother. More at www.kathyefetskopetrie.com

stacked vintage suitcases photo erwan hesry for writing about grandparents One Lit Place at onelitplace.comphoto credit: Erwan Hesry

forgetting, not forgotten

by Cathy Jeannotte

time-gnarled fingers hold my gaze

his age is in his hands

I want to smooth their roughness

with my familiar touch

and soothe the sadness in his eyes

loneliness shadows his days

paralyzing the night

with agonizing stillness

I long to fill the emptiness

and see him smile again

memories bring him tears of joy

in momentary flashes

he warms my hands in recognition

as I pray he understands

he is forgetting, not forgotten

~ Cathy Jeannotte


by Gina Buonaguro

Where the mountains meet the ocean

in a spectrum of grey,

I weep for long-dead grandmothers—

though I think it is for my heart.

I talk, I laugh.

I see myself

talking and laughing,

but I am in the rolling hills

of the east, buried

by too much thought.

It does not rain here,

but the mud

is still fresh, the gutters

still trickle,

I still twist

my pain

into a knot

with my tongue.


~ Gina Buonaguro

Gina Buonaguro is a Toronto-based writer. Her website is https://ginabu.com/.

If you wish to spend time considering your own family, life, and personal stories, please be in touch to see how we can help you write your own memoir, personal essay and poetry through individualized writing coaching–

Or have a look at our next session of Journey to the Page: Writing Your Life Stories, an 8-week nonfiction writing course.


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