At Great Grandma's Knee
I sit on the floor by Great Grandma's chair,
I have shouldered her shawl, and combed her hair.
She's close to a hundred, petite in size,
And her eyes are as blue as the summer skies.
As I hold her hand, her grip is strong,
It has not been this way, for oh! So long.
Her sweet precious face is lit up and smiling,
Tho' wrinkled and old, she looks quite beguiling.
She speaks in a voice that rings true and clear,
And the change, for the better…is very dear.
"How glad I am child, that you came today,
I don't want to tire you, but I need my say.
I know what I tell you…you've heard before,
Trust me my love, I don't mean to bore."
In silence I sit and squeeze gently, her hand,
Go on and talk is my silent command.
She sighs and gives me a look of relief,
Dabs at her eyes with a lace handkerchief.
"Davey, dear Davey, the love of my life,
He was my first husband…I…his one wife."
She looks at me closely to read my face,
Continue, it says; don't lose your place.
"He'd come into town on an old dappled roan,
For all of eight years he'd traveled alone.
Tall and rangy, with hair auburn red,
He was humored and clever, and a lot underfed,
I saw him first from the corner of my eye,
And my virginal heartbeat did signify,
That this stranger to town was surely, to be mine,
He was God's gift to me…my own valentine.
He was a young preacher seeking his mission,
To disciple to others was his main ambition.
Momma and Poppa shook their heads in despair,
'Cause to my rich beaus' in town he just didn't compare.
We were married, the first day of a glorious spring,
And to this day I still wear and cherish his ring.
I was seventeen and Davey was just twenty-five
And the first time in our lives, we felt truly alive.
Preacher Davey was what he liked to be called,
And my poor parents' were so completely appalled,
For Davey was sure he'd been voiced by the Lord,
Telling him to travel West…His Word to record.
I was young, in love, to please Davey I was eager,
Excited by the adventure, full of vim, full of vinegar.
So we packed up a wagon, joined up with a train,
I never could, never will, forget my parent's pain.
I was their only child I had been given the best,
And here I was, packing scant belongings, heading West.
I hugged them good-bye, cried, said I'd write soon as I could,
Davey, he promised them…he'd make sure that I would.
My entire life till then, I left back in the East,
But not one regret did I have in the least.
Our wagon was filled with new pots and pans,
Boxes of Bibles, to fulfill Davey's plans.
My Momma filled a chest with my gowns of silk
And my Poppa had bought us, a brown cow, for milk.
We were laden with food, and my parent's good wishes,
And nestled in cotton were Grandma's best dishes.
A rocking chair and dresser in sturdy gold maples,
And loads of other stuff, Momma called staples.
We had pallets for beds, we kept rolled on the side,
And barrels for water, and a hard bench to ride.
Our horses were friendly and used to the pull
Of a wagon that was loaded fuller than full.
I don't want to complain that the going was rough,
But this genteel young lady sure learnt to be tough.
The mesquities, the sun, the lack of good water,
Lost wagons, lost friends, made one think that one oughtta
Maybe turn back, head East, go on home,
But I knew with Davey, I would stay, I would roam.
When night fell…in Davey's arms I would lay,
He was tender, kind, chased my fears away.
Never was a man so pure, or so good,
Never a bad word, on God's principles he stood.
Didn't matter to him, if you believed the good word,
Just wanted to minister, to be needed…to be heard
We saw some Indians, but they stayed away,
And the coyotes, we set fires to keep them at bay.
We saw raccoons, and skunk, and all sorts of critters,
And two bitch dogs supplied the train with some litters.
The eagles they flew and soared high in the sky,
Immeasurable wingspan, Fly! Fly! Fly!
We traveled through so many strange places,
And in the course of the trip we'd add new faces.
Davey was strong, faithful in the ways of the Lord,
Said that in time we would gain our reward,
Of a piece of land, and church, to call our own,
And a family…spirit filled to add to our home.
My Davey, dear Davey, ministered to all,
I started and taught a small Sunday school.
We had finally got close to where we were going,
It's such a long time, and my mind is slowing.
We'd circled our wagons, stopped for the day,
We were going to party the whole night away.
The evenings, cooler, gave cause to celebrate,
And I dressed for Davey…like a first date.
The wagon master was happy to have such a treat,
The scout, absent, had been gone for nearly a week.
Suddenly we heard Miss Ellie Mae scream,
'Twas my Davey who was first on the scene.
On a rock, disturbed, angry, ready to strike,
Was a big old rattler, his victim…young Mike.
My man threw himself 'twixt child and snake,
He grit his teeth, not a sound did he make.
The snake slid away, with no glance around,
Whilst my Davey lay dying, there, on the ground.
They tried to save him, all worked so hard,
In the end, their efforts they had to discard.
I sat down beside him, holding his hand,
Don't leave me Davey, in this strange land.
Barely able to move, he whispered my name,
He comforted me…in spite of his pain.
'The Lord has called me, don't cry so my love
My earth time is thru, I've been ordered above.
I don't know when, but we have a date
I'll be there to meet you at the Golden Gate,
I will live forever…so deep in your heart,
Never, but never darling, will we be apart.'
I kissed him good-bye on his swollen lips,
Then everything went dark, like a sun eclipse.
I had the men dig him a grave really deep,
I wanted no wild animals to ruin his sleep.
We piled it with boulders and a cross made of wood,
And I prayed 'Dear God, to his soul please be good'.
Five years, lonesome years, before I married again,
To a very fine man, your Great Grand-daddy Ben.
Oh! Child I loved him, he too, was gentle and kind,
I was not 'In love with him', he knew…didn't mind.
I surely have rambled, I've just talked so much,
Hold my hand tighter, I need to feel your touch.
I am excited, so excited, for today I have a date,
I'm going to have to leave dear, you see, I can't be late."
She closes her eyes, smiles,
Gives a gentle sigh,
And I sit at her knee and watch
Great Grandma die.