Understanding Grandma

With one stocking up and the other rolled down

the old lady waddled her way to town.

Her flowered dress sported stains of breakfast.

Her hair was matted, like a birds nest.

Lipstick circled her lips, like a circus clown.

The painted smile veiled depression and a frown.


While quizzically looking up at her face,

the small boy clutching her hand tried to keep pace.

As she shuffled her way down main street,

she chatted with anyone she chanced to meet.

Often she would point with pride

to the small boy by her side.


As the boy grew older, he began wondering

why she couldn’t tell they were pretending.

Couldn’t she hear their humoring lies?

Couldn’t she see the laughter in their eyes?

Couldn’t she sense the embarrassment in the air?

Perhaps she couldn’t care? Perhaps she wasn’t aware?


Being locked in a child like state

may not be the worst fate

because children can make up places

where there are no staring faces.


This is the most profoundly personal pieces I have ever written because it is about my own Grandmother Racheal Bone who suffered from mental illness and depression all of her life. I wrote this piece about thirty-years ago and until now only those close to me have ever seen it or knew that it even existed because these are the kind of things I never like to share, but if it helps someone else “understand” someone close to them then it will be worth it.