Tag Archives: Grandmother

Writing 101 Day Five: The Unfinished Letter


Years ago I sat down and wrote a letter

To my loving and devoted grandmother.

However, I did not take the needed time

To complete and finish every line.

Instead I took a break to run errands,

Return to work, and enjoy the weekend.

I had allowed other things to become more important

Than my grandma who waited for me with gentle patience.

I had started the letter stating that I was well and enjoying the sunshine

And that I hoped she was also doing splendidly fine.

And that was about all that I had written down

As autumn exited and winter entered town.

Then came Christmas and a visit with family

I visited with my grandmother then beside the ornamented tree.

I paid another visit to her as she rested in a nursing home

And held her frail hand that once was so strong and warm.

I returned home and back to my daily life

My letter still unfinished and even out of sight.

My father then called one day with the unwelcome news;

Grandma had passed in the night before morning was due.

Tears stung my eyes as I heaved with a grieving heart

Now emptiness grew in me like an abyss, very deep and dark.

“Do not be so sad,” my caring father tried to say,

“she passed peacefully and she wanted it that way.”

For my grandmother had lived her life in lasting faith in God;

She believed in his love, his guidance, his gentle staff and rod.

 And she had completed the special deeds she was given

And the Lord had rewarded her with a new home in heaven.

I remembered the letter that I had never finished;

Now it means nothing; a white page of emptiness.

Now with great regret I couldn’t help but think

about my grandmother waiting for it so patiently.

Then I thought of my grandmother with Jesus at her side

Who knew everything and was so very wise.

Perhaps he lovingly told her about my unfinished letter;

Though I never completed it, I also never stopped loving her.

In this way, I try to remain satisfied and steadfastly content

Knowing that my grandmother is alive and well in the kingdom of heaven.

Poetry 201 Assignment 8: Drawer, Ode and Apostrophe



I am running a bit late but here is my assignment 8. Today I needed to write about a drawer in my house as if it were speaking to me. I needed to include apostrophes which, as I understand, are expressions and exclamations which can allude to a range of emotions. So after much thought I gave it a try and here is my latest poetic creation from the heart of my memories and my silly imagination. I hope you enjoy reading this and perhaps you will to go find your very own memory drawer.

Ode to a Drawer of Memories

As I pondered what to write about and which drawer should I peek in and see,

My eyes became glued to a certain small dresser that seemed to speak and beckon me:

“I am the most interesting drawer you’ll find for deep inside I keep many memories.

And they are not just your memories as you will soon see

That you will discover and find hiding inside of me.

Come, be brave and take a look now; Come and you shall see.”

So I wandered over while knocking over a pile of books

And yes I dared to even chance to indulge a hesitant look.

The first find was my baby book kept inside of a fading pink box

And inside it were cards, photos and many notes written by mom.

“Look on this page! You were born at 6:55 pm

And your mother thought you were such a precious gem.

Here it says you only weighed four pounds;

You may have been little but you sure could make a loud sound.”

You were baptized in February The following year

And both your grandmothers thought you were such a dear.

Oh look here, your mother thought you looked like your dad.

Hey! Perhaps instead of lass, you should have been a lad?

You lived in a town called Friendship at the age of two

And soon you had a sister to always love you.

Of course that was followed by a few more;

A brother, another sister and together that made four.”

Laying down the baby book I dug further to explore

Wondering what else was hiding in my memory drawer.

I found a red Webster’s New World Dictionary copyrighted in 1990,

“You don’t even remember having that; I can tell, I can see.”

I then found several colorful art prints;

One still kept in a frame but the other wasn’t.

One picture of a girl pushing her sister in an old buggy

And the other of two girls sitting on a bench like young ladies.

“You remember that day you found these treasured items

In that store downtown; in the Arts and Crafts Emporium.

Ah! I see the glint in your eye, you enjoyed visiting that place.

It is a shame another business took that space.”

Going deeper into the drawer, I found an old pair of glasses tinted in light rose,

“I can see in your eyes that you remember wearing those

As well as the painful headache you had one night

Because the prescription in them was not right.”

Going still further I discovered crayon drawings and sheets of construction paper,

“Pink, white, or purple, which was your favorite color?

Do you remember how you tried to color so fine

And stay so meticulously inside the lines?”

Next was a cassette tape of children’s hymns,

“You tried so hard to sing but often were out of tune.

Remember coaxing the children to sing, God is so Good;

A favorite melody from your own childhood?

And you still have your old boom box that you bought with pride

Which is in your kitchen now sitting up high.

Speaking of music, remember how your grandmother was pleased

To see you play her piano but not always striking the right keys?

She was as delighted as she could be

To hear you strum, Consider the Lilies.

Lastly I found some pens and other odds and ends,

“When did all this cluttering begin? And when will it end?”

So tired now, I quietly closed my overwhelming memory drawer,

“Please come back for I am not done! I have so much more.”

What a late night of mixed and blessed memories was in store

All due to this assigned poem and my memory drawer.

Assignment 13: A Baby Named Annetta (Part 2)



From trying to remember my grandmother’s story and researching about a historical event which took place in 1911, I’ve attempted to piece together the story of my grandmother’s birth. At best, this would be a piece of historical fiction based on a true story and not a true biography because I am not 100% sure of all of the details. This story of a true disastrous event occurring so close to my grandmother’s birth is a part of my family’s history.

Timeframe: October 1911. Place: a small farm in Oakridge rural area south of Black River Falls, Wisconsin. My great grandfather Albert watched the hard rain pound the house and ground around him. It has been raining for weeks and flooding was a mounting concern. He had another worry, Bessie, his wife and my great grandmother, was pregnant with their first child; very pregnant. The rising Black River perhaps already cut him off of the main town of Black River Falls as he possibly wouldn’t consider traveling across that long iron canopied bridge stretching across the swollen waters. He devised a plan to head south; perhaps all the way to LaCrosse roughly 50 miles away. His mode of transportation was a horse drawn vehicle so it may have taken several days of hard driving in the rain across wet and slippery roads.  In the drenching rain, Albert hitched his team to and helped Bessie to safely climb inside. They endured a dangerous and harrowing journey as they traveled southward to trying to stay ahead of the rushing river.  Little did they realize at the time, they would be traveling along the crest of the Great Flood of 1911.

In the meantime the Black River was swelling; it originated in Taylor County and passed in a southwest direction through Clark, Jackson, and LaCrosse counties emptying into the Mississippi River.  According to a New York Times article, it was believed that the concrete dams in place could hold back any amount of flooding water. On October 6th, at 4am, the first dam north of Hatfield gave way and racing water flowed around the dam and then continued along the river’s path. By 10:45am, the second dam closer to Hatfield broke sending even more rushing water towards Black River Falls. Word of warning was sent the residents of the doomed town that a raging flood raced in their direction. At first the villagers and business owners did not believe they were in  immediate danger but much to everyone’s shock and dismay in about an hour’s time, the unimaginable wave of torrential water arrived with disastrous results.

The water came in great torrents and the Black River Falls power plant was first to be struck and damaged leaving everyone in darkness by nightfall. The huge wall of water took out the iron canopied bridge, businesses, and houses carrying them downstream as seen in photos posted by The Merchant General of Black River Falls. The flooding water cut through the banks carving out the ground and destroying three blocks worth of downtown business and residential buildings all along the river’s edge. According to a news report from Clark County, A number of lumber and sawmill businesses were swept away along with a shoe store, a jewelry retail store, an iron works business, a hotel, a sash factory, and hardware store. Also destroyed was the county poor house along with many homes.  Barely enough warning was given for Black River residents to evacuate although without their possessions. They just kept backing away from the rushing water and climbing to higher ground.  Black River Falls had become nearly an island cut off from the surrounding countryside. The raging flood also destroyed many farms in its wake and families were stranded on rooftops (New York Times, 1911). Although the loss of animals and property were enormous, no resident lost his or her live that fateful day (Rupnow, 2011). After nearly wiping out Black River Falls, the torrential river raced towards more communities down the river and LaCrosse was in its path.

Albert, my great grandfather and Bessie, my great grandmother, must have been terrified of the pounding, rushing water as they continued their harrowing journey. While Albert held the reigns and drove the horses, I can imagine my great grandmother praying for their safe arrival in LaCrosse.  I’m sure she cried out in pain, knowing she was close to giving birth.

As predicted, the flooding, raging river propelled its way into LaCrosse damaging the city’s power plant. Somehow, through fear and determination and by God’s loving grace and protection, great grandfather Albert and my great grandmother Bessie reached Luther Hospital of LaCrosse. No doubt, a huge sense of relief showered over my great grandparents as caring doctors and nurses aided them.

On October 7,, 1911, one day after the Great Flood of 1911 struck and devastated Black River Falls, Wisconsin , a baby girl was born, a baby named Annetta; my grandmother. While she grew up on a small farm in Oakridge, the city of Black River Falls was rebuilt as residents determined to remain and rebuild their lives (Rupnow, 2011).

Many years later she moved to Black River Falls as a teenager to attend high school. She married and raised a family. She worked as a school bus driver and later as a store clerk. She may had other jobs that I am not aware of. Today Black River Falls continues to be thriving small town in rural Jackson County Wisconsin; it is also near where I lived and grew up years later. I spent many Sundays visiting my grandmother in her tiny apartment not far from the banks of the usually gentle flowing Black River.

Reference Links about the Great Flood of 1911 which struck Black River Falls Wisconsin:

From New York Times, 1911:


From Leader Telegram, 2011


Clark County History Bluff:


Writing 101 Assignment 4: A Lady Named Annetta (Part 1)



I realize that I am doing some of the assignments out of order but I wanted to share a special piece about my grandmother whom I miss very much:

I have special memories of my grandmother, Annetta . I and all of the grandchildren affectionately knew her as Grandma Hart.  She often signed birthdays and letters with “Grandma” and then drew a heart. My grandmother was a kind, soft spoken woman who had a large family and many friends. Her brunette hair had turned gray, she was tall with hazel-green eyes magnified by her glasses which twinkled with delight at picnics and holiday events while visiting with friends and family. I distinctively remember her gentle, musical laughter. She was a quiet lady who loved her family very much and enjoyed doing quiet activities which included reading, writing, crocheting, and attending a Bible Study.

Another favorite pastime she enjoyed was watching the Green Bay Packers. Grandma was not pleased when the Packers did not play well.  When I was older and had my own car, I would visit Grandma in her small apartment in Black River Falls.  Her apartment building was situated near the banks of Black River and her first floor apartment faced the Black River Falls Memorial Bridge She and I relaxed and visited on many Sundays in her tiny living room and she sometimes told me stories about her younger self. She showed me a hint of her adventurous side but truly, I had no idea until years later.

My grandmother, Annette Marie, was born in October of 1911 to parents Albert and Bessie. She arrived in this world one day after a great flood struck Black River Falls, Wisconsin. The flood was so severe that  some did not think the town of Black River would survive However, determined residents resolved to rebuild the small town which blossoms today. My grandmother used to say, “I was born on the crest of the Great Flood”.   She grew up in a rural area south of Black River Falls known as Oak Grove.  As you may guess, the area was full of oak trees except for one lone, tall pine tree. When great grandpa Albert was clearing the land, he reached this pine tree with his ax ready; he hesitated and my great grandmother yelled to him, “If you chop down that pine tree I’m moving back to LaCrosse.” My grandmother remembered that lone tree years later and wrote a story entitled, The Lonesome Pine.  Annetta, my grandmother, and her younger sister, Lela attended the Oak Ridge country schoolhouse.

Later my grandmother and her best friend, Irene, lived in a boarding house in Black River Falls to attend high school there. As a young teenager, Annetta was a bit mischievous and she loved to run. She once told me that she and her friend at lunchtime would run a considerable distance back to their boarding house, eat lunch, and then run back to school without being late.  I tried to study and determine the route she and her friend took. My first calculations were not accurate; my brother pointed this out by explaining that the bridge she ran across was a different structure than the bridge which existed today; also it was in a different location. Additionally, the high school which she attended was not the same school that I attended; again, a very different location.

From what I could determine in studying her route, she and her friend needed to race along a road south of town, cross the sprawling bridge which stretched across Black River, dash across perhaps a busy intersection near downtown, and finally scamper up a set of double hills before arriving at the three story school building. I had asked her why she didn’t just pack a lunch and take it with her and she laughingly replied, “But we liked to do it that way!”

She was silent for a few minutes while I thought about this and finally responded, “You mean you liked the challenge of it.”

“Yes!” she answered and laughed.

“Grandma, you and your friend invented your own physical education class.”

Again, grandma’s musical laughter filled her tiny living room.

At age 17, Annetta was married. She raised a family of eight children and became one of the first female bus driver for the Black River Falls school district.  She perceived her job as an adventure but also took her work very seriously.  She had commented in a newspaper article, “I had to get my little charges home safely.” She had felt a heavy sense of responsibility as she drove the children home through a blinding snowstorm; the journey was slow and treacherous. She worried that she’d run out of gas and wondered how she would keep the children warm.

My grandmother saw her children grow to adulthood, marry, and have families of their own.  Some had very large families giving her many grandchildren and numerous great grandchildren. She passed away in 1995.  Annetta lived all of her life in or near Black River Falls, Wisconsin. She was a well-liked lady known for her adventurous spirit, her large family, her writings, her quiet, caring nature, and her faith in God.  She had a very gentle way of sharing about her faith and trust in Jesus. Almost 20 years have come and gone, and I still miss her. There is a special place in my heart where I go to remember her; I recall her stories, the sound of her soft voice, and her sweet, melodious laughter. Most of all, I remember her deep and never ending love for her family.