My Great Grandmother, Louella,
on my mother’s side, lived long
and strong till nearly 98.
In my teens she had a stroke,
lived on our closed-in porch
in Queens. She became my advocate.
What they did was wrong—
forced her to move to the city
from her country farmhouse—
after they found that frozen
praying mantis on her screen door
early spring. An omen they said.
Each summer we drove upstate
to Great Grandmas. Mother and Uncle
grumbled, she's too old to spend winters alone.
Then, that praying mantis—
a sign of paralysis—so they moved her
like they moved me—to a concrete
bound world, the city.
She stood up for me, said
it was fine I go on a first date.
She became our neighborhood
window watcher, knew everyone,
every secret on our block.
She told stories, at Kitty Hawk
the first airplane flew like a bird,
stories from the Civil War, how the men
in our family fought, her husband on
the North side, the right side.
We lost so many memories
when we lost Louella.
Julene Tripp Weaver, a native New Yorker, is a psychotherapist and writer in Seattle. Her book, truth be bold—Serenading Life & Death in the Age of AIDS, was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award, and won the Bisexual Book Award. Check out more of her work at www.julenetrippweaver.com.