The first time that my Uncle Edward visited my home he looked around at my hutch full of pretty dishes and all of the decorative plates hanging on my wall and commented, "You are like Grandma Lydia (his mother and my grandmother.) She loved pretty dishes too." This touched me, because I was just a little baby when she died. During the last few months of her life, she stayed in our home so that my mother could take care of her. My mom had just given birth to me; so taking care of a newborn baby and her dying mother must have been so very hard for her. Over the years, my mother and sister (who was fourteen years old when I was born) often told me how they would bathe me and put me on Grandma's chest as she lay on her sickbed. And so this poem is for my grandmother; we passed like ships in the night; but I believe that something of her still lives in me.
Heart to Heart
For Grandmother Lydia
I can’t recall your smile, or the color of your eyes,
yet I know you very well.
The day we met my mother lay me on your breast,
heart to heart we were…fighting to live we were.
I--two months premature…you--dying prematurely.
Every day they carried me, freshly-bathed to you
and you buried your face in the folds of my neck
and you breathed sweet baby smells;
essence of Johnson’s baby talc and my mother’s milk.
You postponed leaving for a while in lieu of holding me
and as I lay there on your chest; tiny wrinkled hands
clutching gnarled fingers,
my tummy aches and preemie nerves
soothed by the rhythm of your heart.
I heard your pulse reminding me, coaxing me to
Live…live…live…live…live little one!
For I am soon away from whence you came
but you, my little one, must live,
and remember this abiding truth--
For a season we met at the crossroads of life
and death; our hearts are synchronized.
They beat as one…forever.