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Birthday Card

March 8, 2018

At 10 years old

I thought store-bought cards

were impersonal,

as was my paternal grandmother

who sent them

every year.


Until my birthday

when I pulled out a card with a tree

hung with intricately detailed ornaments—

a card to hang up in my room

and keep forever.

Grandma Eunice told me

she’d looked through hundreds of cards

to find this perfect one.

And then I understood she underlined

beloved granddaughter

because she meant it.


Over the years she’s sent me

newspaper articles underlined in red ink


emails that make me snort

poetry she wrote


and always

a birthday card

that arrives


on my birthday.



she lies in a nursing home bed,

no longer able to

open mail

or sit up

without help.


She is 94

and I have been lucky

to have a healthy grandma

for so long.


I tell myself

I carry her with me

when I hear bird song

and walk in the woods

and write poetry.


But next week is my birthday

and I am already


the absence of her card.

From → Uncategorized

  1. Such a sad poem. So honest in its pain! My Mom is turning 89 in a week and hasn’t known me for years (dementia). Suggestion – mail her a card, sharing your love for her. It will brighten her day! And treasure yourself on your birthday…do something soft, caring, and special just for you.

  2. Beautiful thoughts. I share your bittersweet post. Bitter because. And sweet that your grandma was that grandma! And she taught you so much. And you are a changed person because of her. You wrote a beautiful ode to her.

  3. I love how you wrote this poem…The line breaks add to the tone and show the sadness you’re feeling. You wouldn’t think the absence of a card could be painful, but it is. Thanks for sharing this with us.

  4. johnrereads permalink

    I mostly agree
    with your ten year old self.

    I love to make a good craftastic card.
    my older wiser self
    knows that not everyone follows that muse
    there are many ways to show love
    as there are ways to dance

    an early happy birthday
    may you sit with that mourning
    and savor it well

    may you embrace your morning
    you are one of the lucky ones

    and embraced
    by 94 years of love
    may you
    with the joy
    that she gave you

  5. So Sorry. I agree go do something caring, and special just for you.

  6. What a beautiful piece. My own GrAndma is 89. I can’t imagine life without her. I’ll be thinking of you as your birthday approaches.

  7. Sally Donnelly permalink

    Your love comes across so strongly. Thanks for sharing.

  8. What a wonderful grandmother you have. I can feel the love you have for her in your words. Beautiful poem.

  9. So heartfelt, so raw. Your ending did me in. Thank you for causing me to reflect and draw attention to the little things our loved ones do, because I know someday I will miss it. Thinking of you both as your birthday draws near.

  10. Wow. This gave me goosebumps. A really powerful piece.

  11. Such a lovely, loving piece. You made me cry.
    My absolute favorite lines:

    “And then I understood she underlined

    beloved granddaughter

    because she meant it.”

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. SOL 9 – 2018 – responding to another slice – John Re Reads & Writes
  2. 31 Favorite Slices: A Bonus Slice of Life #sol18 32/31 | the dirigible plum

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