Monday, February 22, 2010

Tribute

I wrote this poem about my grandpa several years ago for a college creative writing class. I'd completely forgotten about it until my mom mentioned they were printing it in the funeral program. It pretty well sums up some of my favorite aspects of Grandpa's personality.

9/24/02

Wallace Moses Ott

I
"We'll switch the numbers," you say
"I'll be 19, and you be 91."
I laugh.
Oh Grandpa.
"I met a man who met President Lincoln.
Aren't many people who can say that."
And when I grow up, Grandpa,
I will say that I met a man
Who met a man
Who met President Lincoln.
We all say that work has kept you alive -
You,
Still chasing your cows every day
You'll go as often as we'll let you.
Branded "The Walking Cowboy"
By Michael Martin Murphy,
You can't ride anymore.

II
The "little trees"
Your legacy
They are your children now
I went with you to water them
"Don't run over the little trees"
And we hauled two one-gallon jugs at a time -
Milk jugs, orange juice cartons,
and detergent containers -
Filled with hose water
And loaded in the back of your truck.
We drowned
Each twelve-inch spiky twig
With two gallons of water
You and me
Me, running to try to get more done than you
Aunt Sandra had told me
The more I did, the less you would have to do
So I tried to spare you.
You were impressed with me -
A wimpy girl lugging jugs.
But when we got home, I was tired
You kept working.
I think it was you
Who spared me.

III
When we were done,
We sat in your red truck
Drinking a warm coke.
We split it in two small cups
It tasted like the smell of cloves.
You clutched your cup in your gnarled hand
Your skin looked like that of a
Featherless baby bird,
Translucent and veiny.
I asked you there how you and Grandma met:
She sat on your lap
On the way to a dance
Because there was no room in the car.

IV
You've been married nearly 70 years.
I hope you're still here when I finally meet the
"Blonde-haired, blue-eyed boy with rosy cheeks"
Who you've been asking me about
Since I was three.
You are my hero.
You have always been a tease.
I have never seen you angry.
You can tell better stories
Than anyone I know -
And all of them are true.
I love the one about Butch Cassidy
You did meet him -
I don't care what the historians say.
Methuselah of your day,
Your legacy will live on.


5 comments:

  1. You are so incredibly gifted. What beautiful and heartfelt pieces. Wow, I'm so lucky to know you. My heart goes out to you at this time. Much, much love from the tundra.

    -Katie

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  2. I agree with Katie above- you are truly a gifted writer. What a wonderful tribute to a wonderful man. I hope all is well for you guys.

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  3. Wow thats amazing, love to read what you write and that tribute is worded so well!

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  4. I hope the funeral was a wonderful experience and I'm glad you didn't have to be away from Jay too long. The first time's the hardest! Well we missed you while you were away! One question, did you have to change your poem to fit Jay's description or were you always just dreaming of Jay?

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  5. Shannon, I don't think that I was always dreaming of Jay (I was always partial to dark hair and light eyes), but I guess Grandpa was. I remember, every time I visited him between the ages of 3 and 18, he offered to find me a "cute little blonde-haired, blue eyed boy with rosy cheeks" from Panguitch. Other than the hometown, Jay fits the bill pretty well. Grandpa loved that he's so tall.

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