Bookmark and Share

A Napkin Poem — a tribute to Mom

“But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.” 2 Chronicles 15:7

Napkin poems.

Poets are known for scribbling poetry on napkins. The poem below, “The Little Old Lady from Pennsylvania,” is a napkin poem.

In a restaurant, I recalled to my friend how my Mom, when she was in her 60s, mowed three acres of grass. She liked to go fast on the lawn tractor, but when she did, she would get cold, even in hot weather, so she’d wear a winter coat and scarf.

It was quite a sight. I thought of a 60s song, “The Little Old Lady from Pasadena,” and jotted some ideas down on a napkin. I finished the poem a few days later.

This is one of the most important poems I have ever written. Reading it, you would never know it. It’s kind of silly.

Why would I consider it so important? At almost 70, Mom was dying. On her birthday, my sisters and nieces sang this for her. She was in a lot of pain, and it was the only thing that made her smile that day. She died three months later.

It was probably the best gift I could have given her. You never know how God will use your simple creations.

Mom’s quirks in this poem are true. When she did housework, she wore underwear on her head instead of a hair net. I was used to it, but my friends found it odd. She liked burnt popcorn. After making popcorn for the family, she would burn some for herself. She said it tasted exotic. She also liked burnt hot dogs. To this day, when we grill, I burn one for Mom. And “redding” is a word which means cleaning up. It’s in the dictionary, but Western Pennsylvanians are the only ones who use it.

She also liked to draw, and write poetry, but didn’t do much of it until the five of us grew up and moved out. She worked hard around the house and didn’t take time for herself.

The Lord had to do a work in me to give myself permission to take time to write or draw and paint. For some reason we have labeled writing and painting as frivolous activities even more so than watching television, doing crossword puzzles or having long phone conversations. At times, I still struggle to view my calling to write as a valuable way to spend my time. I often write, even when my house is a mess, the yard needs mowing, or when I’m helping my host home clients with their meals. Writers have to write, artists have to draw and paint, dancers have to dance, and singers have to sing. As writing “The Little Old Lady from Pennsylvania” taught me, you never know how God is going to use your creative work.

The Little Old Lady from Pennsylvania

On a lawn mower you can’t tame her

The little old lady from Pennsylvania.

She puts it in fourth and pushes down hard,

Scarf and coat a flappin’

As she sails through the yard.

She’s the little old lady from Pennsylvania.

For reddin’ up the house she has a mania,

The little old lady from Pennsylvania.

She sweeps the floor and makes each bed

While wearin’ a pair of underwear on her head.

She’s the little old lady from Pennsylvania.

She fixes a snack to sustain ya

The little old lady from Pennsylvania.

Smoke bellows from the kitchen.

The alarm sounds like a horn

As she pops herself some burnt popcorn.

She’s the little old lady from Pennsylvania.

Go granny, go granny, go granny go!

As a wife she’ll entertain ya

The little old lady from Pennsylvania.

She tells ya stories about huntin’ and fishin’

And gives her hubby what he’s a wishin’.

She’s the little old lady from Pennsylvania.

For a mother, five girls claim her.

She’s the little old lady from Pennsylvania.

She kissed booboos and washed their jeans

From the terrible twos

All the way through the teens.

She’s the little old lady from Pennsylvania.

The younger ones call her Gramma Ginny,

The little old lady from “Topple Beanie.”

Tom, Nick, Jim, Jessi, and LoriBecky, Andy, Eli, Megan, and Allie.

She’s the little old lady from Pennsylvania.

If you love her we don’t blame ya.

The little old lady from Pennsylvania.

She writes her poems and paints her posies.

Her lips are red and her cheeks are rosy.

She’s the little old lady from Pennsylvania.

Go Granny, Go Granny, Go Granny, Go!

Reader’s comments

Send your faith articles to betty@bettyslade.com (500 to 800 words).

blog comments powered by Disqus
TERMS OF USE