FROM THE GARDEN OF THE YEARS: Reminiscences of My Poet Grandmother

She was a gentle soul with tremendous strength. My grandparents had ten children, and their home was a dusty “dry-farm” in northern Utah. Subsistence was dependent on the weather. If just enough rain came during the growing season, and the summer thunderstorms didn’t ruin the crops, then the family did well for the winter months. It was a tenuous existence, and the strain and anxiety of raising ten children under such circumstances was very hard on Grandmother.

She must have decided early on that poetry would help her survive those hardships and terrors (lightening storms were particularly terrifying to her, and she would gather the younger children together under the stairs during those storms). Each afternoon, for one hour, she would quietly retreat to a table in the living room, close the doors, and write poetry. No one disturbed her during that hour, and it wasn’t until many years later that the family discovered what treasures were produced during those solitary hours. Her poems were quiet reflections and introspections, thoughtful and gentle, phrases that put chaos into order and reminded us of the beauty and preciousness of life. I grew up reading her poems and I always found one to express my feeling at the moment, whatever moment that might be.

In 1958, my father gathered her poems and published them for the family in a small, pink, paperback volume called THE GARDEN OF THE YEARS. Years later, my uncle had them republished in a hardback collection called YOU LEFT US WITH A SMILE.

These two irreplaceable books are the most treasured on my bookshelves.

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