Friday, March 3, 2017

Grandparents #sol17

I believe being a writer is one of the biggest gifts you can give to your students. ~ Stacey Shubitz

This month I am participating in the Slice of Life Story Challenge.  Thanks to Two Writing Teachers for creating a space for me to share my corner of the world.


It's also Poetry Friday, and today's slice is about honoring grandparents, but starts with a silly clown and wraps up with a poem. Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe has the round-up this week.

Red Skelton, also known as America's greatest clown, was born in my hometown.  Red was best known for his hobo-philosopher, Freddie the Freeloader.  Red was a clown, a comedian, an actor, an artist, and a writer for over 70 years.  Vincennes is the home of the Red Skelton Museum of American Comedy which houses many of his paintings and priceless memorabilia donated by members of his family.  

Although Vincennes is home to the museum, many of our students do not know much about our hometown clown.  As I began looking for material to create a unit on Red, I found this poem he wrote about being a grandparent. 

I am lucky to still have my 92 year old grandmother living, and I cherish the moments that I have left with her.  I am also blessed to know some great on-line grandmothers. Ramona at Pleasures From the Page, recently became a grandmother for a second time.  I enjoy reading about and seeing pictures of her grandsons, Teddy and Jack. Linda also shares her adventures with her grand-daughters, Imogene and Ingrid on her blog, Teacher Dance.  I believe both of them and the other on-line grandparents I know, would agree with the way Red defines grandparenthood:  

a gentle title, 

a noble symbol of age, 

a privilege granted by God, 

and a blessed honor.

So many lessons can be found in Red's words which warm my heart for these are the legacies that we leave behind. 

Grandfather, Grandmother
A gentle title that builds an imaginary wall around the harshness of two words; old age
The enemy of youth, for we have learned that age is cruel
Yet regardless to how young you are, how young you think you are, or try to be
Age steps in, unannounced, introduced by your closest friends sometimes by saying “Remember when?”
It’s then that we hope that we’ll have some brilliance that will blind the observer,
Or cast a shadow over our actions and keep them in the semi-darkness,
And we close our ears,
So we will not hear the sounds made by progress that knows no sentiment
Or to hear the song that is sung by youth called senility
Grandmother, grandfather
A noble symbol of age
A real elegance that’s filled with proud moments
A chance to relive your childhood
Through the eyes of your children’s children
Grandfather, grandmother
A privilege granted by God
To teach the little newcomer the shortcuts
And the ways to face the angry sorrowful old world
A chance to teach independence and respect without the aid of groups or causes
A chance to show how to build and not to destroy
A chance to see the innocence of life again
To let our minds romp freely
And not notice the hypocrisy or the puritanical taboos
That this little fellow doesn’t know yet
A chance to teach and recapture wasted, unimportant seconds of our childhood
To explain youth to that always ambitious youth
That sometimes forgets to realize the importance of childhood
They’re always pretending that they’re a little older than their bodies or their reasons
And intelligent just enough to be well misinformed
Ignorant to discipline which teach the true essence of freedom
To teach them to grow into their wisdom far beyond their years
Grandfather, Grandmother
A blessed honor
A chance to daydream and to notice a bird in flight
And think of an answer, for it’ll be the first time you’ve ever been asked why
And to touch a puppy dog, and not notice it messing up the place
To see for the first time a blade of grass take on the designs of a cathedral
A chance to see spring in the twilight of our autumn years

Grandmother, Grandfather
What a new dignity for now you see love
And you feel respect
For now you walk holding two hands
One the hand of tomorrow
The other the hand of eternity

 ~ Red Skelton


  1. You and your grandmother are both lucky - thanks for sharing words to remind us all to treasure the moments we share with our beloved grandparents! I've lost both of mine, but my own children are blessed to have one grandmother still, but lost their other grandmother after fighting a courageous battle with Alzheimer's disease. Thanks for inspiring not only your students, but also us "slicers!"

  2. Red had it right! It is the ultimate joy having a grandchild, but also seeing your child step into the role of parent. Unfortunately, I can only see my girls a couple times a year, but at least I get pictures all year long.

  3. You are lucky indeed to still have your grandmother alive. I lost my grandmas when I was a child. I am happy that my mom gets to be granny to my kids.

  4. I grew up far away from my grandparents and never got to know them very well, and none of them were that kind of Western grandparent, the kind that plays with their grandchildren on the floor or dotes on them. They were very much from that older tradition that adults should act like adults, and children should be left to their own devices! I remember being so disappointed as a child that I didn't have the kind of grandparents I read about it stories or saw on TV, but as I've grown up I've come to realize that they were simply following their own cultural traditions and expectations, and that just because they expressed their love in different ways didn't mean they didn't love me!

  5. Thank you for this Leigh Anne. I'm sitting here with Ingrid right now while she draws and I catch up on slices a little bit. She is out at 1 on Fridays, & today was so warm we took a snack to the park and examined the stream, finding insects newly hatched and ducks dipping in to munch! It is a joy to be with my grandchildren although I don't get to see Carter, who's in Texas, very often. I didn't know about Red Skelton and his hometown, and his grandparent poem, but I do now, and appreciate the sentiment very much, especially those last few lines. I had such wonderful grandparents, a few of whom got to meet my own children, their great-grandchildren. My daughter is names after one grandmother! Thanks a bunch for your thoughtful post. Wishing you many grandchildren in your future!

  6. Beautiful sentiments in that poem, Leigh Anne. I particularly liked, 'A chance to see spring in the twilight of our autumn years' - it just seemed to promise such joy. :) My Grandma lived until she was 97 - so we felt very blessed to have her quiet, gentle presence for so long.

  7. Leigh Anne, having your grandmother still alive is wonderful. I loved being with my grandmother throughout my life. She was so special to me and I hope I will be the same to a little special someone. Red Skeleton's poem is charming and I read it through before I realized you had a video of him reading it aloud. I will keep this poem close to my heart.

  8. Thank you for Red Skelton's voice and his poem. I grew up with him, and didn't realize how much I miss and appreciate his wisdom.

  9. I have fond memories of watching Red Skelton with my parents. Thanks for sharing. I look forward to being a grandmother. Maybe now that I'll have two married daughters (as of March 25th) the chances are growing.

  10. This was an entirely different side of the wonderful Red Skelton, thanks for sharing his beautiful, and timeless poem!

  11. Leigh Anne, I have never even wondered who Red Skelton really was or where he came from--this is such a fascinating glimpse! I love it that you're giving your students a chance to research local history. (Side note: I lived for a year in Vincennes, France, on the edge of Paris's 12th arondissement.)

  12. Beautiful. Grandparents are such blessings.
    Love what you did for your students.