My grandmother, Cora Belle Lewis, lived in a small clapboard house in the country with a blackberry patch and chicken coop out back. She fried chicken, baked sugar cookies, made quilts, and cared for anyone who came in front of her. She married at 16 and gave birth to eleven children. Eight survived childhood.
Though I knew her only as a young child, I still see her clearly. She prized my young drawings and had hung one of them, its outlines decorated with crooked bands of colored rice, in her parlor where it stayed until she died.
When I was born, a deeply desired daughter after two sons, my mother wanted to name me Corrina, in honor of my grandmother. At my father’s insistence, that name kept its hard consonant beginning but changed to Karen.
My mother had aspirations to be a writer. In between the care of three children and a demanding husband, and despite her own chronic kidney disease, she wrote poems and vignettes of her life growing up in poverty on a farm in Missouri. After she died, I found her poems and stories scattered through spiral notebooks amid grocery lists and doctor’s numbers.
This blog is dedicated to them, the matriarchs of my lineage, whose lives and encouragement made my life, so different from theirs, possible.
I currently live in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with my beloved dog, Maddie, where I work as an educator.