my grandma

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My grandma never made it past 6th grade in school.

Not because she wasn’t smart enough.

Not because she didn’t like school.

It just wasn’t expected for girls back then.

Born in a time so different from now.

During the beginning of a century,

in a nation divided in half at the brink of war.

My grandma always told me how she felt so stupid.

Telling me she wished she got to learn the things that I often took for granted

Even though she can read and write Korean,

she can barely speak any words of English.

She struggled to learn to spell a few English words,

despite living in NY for over 30 years.

She tells me how lucky I am.

How smart I am.

I forget to tell her that her years of life,

bring an unattainable wisdom,

a beauty, a grace and a love overflowing

that only can come from a grandmother’s heart

She is 101 years old.

She is from a different time.

She is refined by the fires she has gone through.

She is full of courage and strength,

which I can only hope to have one day.

13 thoughts on “my grandma

  1. Amy Rudd says:

    Jee,
    I loved reading about your gran! I can’t believe she’s 101! That’s so amazing. Your tribute to her shows how much you care…a very special slice! Another slicer, Cathy Mere, wrote about her grandmother today too!

  2. Donna Smith says:

    What a beautiful tribute to your grandmother! The sad and unfortunate thing is that many do not value the wisdom that comes with age. And she has so much to offer. Can you get her story? What a treasure! My grandfather was put to work on a sealing boat when he was 9 or 10, so never finished elementary school either. It was such a different world back then. He did not want to tell his story.

  3. Jackie says:

    Beautiful! My grandpa was so smart in fixing things and just doing things. A very careful worker. He also did not finish high school. He didn’t talk about his or our schooling. His deep humility was rooted in the missing few years of high school. Yet his wisdom–deep wisdom was obvious in the tender way he cared for others and their things. His hands were big, meaty and really great to hold. Thanks for the memories, Jee Young!

  4. elsie says:

    Lovely poem for your grandmother. Wisdom doesn’t always come from spending time in school. What a life she’s led, negotiating life in Korea, then in New York. Amazing!

  5. Michelle @litlearningzone says:

    Another poem bringing me chills today! I love this celebratory slice about your grandma. I hope you do share this with her. Let her hear your words of love and admiration. School isn’t the only way we learn. We learn through living and that your Grandma has done so graciously.

  6. mpistek says:

    This piece brought tears to my eyes. I am writing about my grandmother for all of my SOL pieces and I really connected to your writing. You are so lucky to still have her around. I can tell she is a very important part of your life.

  7. aggiekesler says:

    What a beautiful poem and tribute to someone who is undoubtedly beautiful herself! You are so fortunate to still have your grandma around. Treasure the moments you have with her. Write her story. Share secrets. Make memories.
    ~Jennifer

  8. GirlGriot says:

    I love this slice about your grandmother! (I wrote about mine yesterday.) It’s clear how much you love and look up to her. It’s hard to imagine living through the things our parents and grandparents had to live through, isn’t it?

  9. Tam says:

    I’m glad you have that time with your grandma to really appreciate her. I didn’t know any better until mine died with all her stories from Russia. She could only write her name for her citizenship papers in the 50’s. She was born in 1889. I should write about her again! Thanks for reminding me.

  10. Chris H. says:

    Orphaned and growing up in Appalachia during the Depression years, my father faced similar adversity in lacking formal education…but as my sister and I move through the world with master’s degrees, we hold him in the highest regard as one of the smartest people we have ever known. It is from him that we inherited our love of books, interest in politics, and respect for nature. He instilled in us a strong sense of right and wrong that transfers into moral justice and ethics in daily life. I’m thankful for this heritage…

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