Stories of My Grandmother

Sometimes my maternal grandmother visits me,
I’ll come awake gradually, know she’s sitting there,
silent guardian at the foot of my bed, watching over me,
the way she used to when I was still in my crib.

What made her happiest, she told me once, was taking care of me,
after she moved in with us, here in Honolulu, from Chicago,
and she’d read to me all the time, Black Beauty a particularly vivid memory.

When we launched into the Hardy boys, she would finish one,
then we’d head to Liberty House downtown to buy the next book in the series.

Once, doing who knows what with it, I lost my official Cub Scout pocket knife,
and the next thing I knew, she was coming up the hill, a brand new one in her purse.

She would grocery shop often, take me several times a week with her,
walking to Chun Hoon Market down at Nu‘uanu and South School, buying me potato chips,
after which she’d sometimes splurge on a big, black Sida taxi to bring us home.

After she and then my grandfather died, I helped my mother clean out their floor upstairs.
In the bottom drawer of her dresser, we were surprised to find a collection of her diaries.
One entry recounted the time when her father came home drunk, as usual, she wrote,
and then beat her mother to death while my grandmother hid under the bed.

I asked my mother if she’d heard about this before.

My mother said of course she hadn’t because it wasn’t true.

We boxed up all the diaries and threw them away.


  1. I had heard (from Mama I think) that Grandma’s dad had killed her mother. Her sisters denied it as did our Mum. I have one picture of him and I have often stared at it thinking were you a killer? Did you kill our Great Grandma Mary Baldry? The answer is, we will never know…We all know Grandma could be fanciful, but it is interesting to note that although he married again, our great grandpa is recorded in a later census as living in a boarding house, rather than in a family home.


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