Family Poem for Kids

My Great Grandfather And His Life's Work

Hi, my name is Alan Balter, and I am a retired university professor. I worked at the University of Illinois and Chicago State University where my job was to prepare teachers for children with special needs. Now, in retirement, I write fiction, personal essays, and poetry. I wrote "Great Grandpa" to honor the man and to preserve his memory for younger people in the family.

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Balter's poem reminds me of my own grandfather whom I lost 49 years ago when he was 94. I remember his two habits very lucidly. He was a frugal eater. He used to weigh his food every time...

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Great Grandpa

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Published: January 11, 2018

Great Grandpa is a wise old man who says he's ninety-four.
He tells me that he lost his leg fighting in some war.
When I was just a little tot with eyes and nose still runny,
He swears that he forgot my name, so now he calls me Sonny.

Great Grandpa is a carpenter; he makes things out of wood,
Chairs and stairs and pegs and legs; gee, I wish I could.
He has saws and tools and tapes and rules in the shed where he does work.
Most times he's out there late at night with his dear old helper, Turk.

Together they talk of good old days, 'bout things they used to do,
And sometimes they just kick around what are lies and what is true.
Once at breakfast, I asked my gramps when he learned his trade.
He said, "Sonny, I'm very proud to say it was down in second grade."

"Gramps," I said, "Now that's a fib; you weren't but seven or eight.
A boy can't be a carpenter at such an early date."
Grandpa winked and took a swig of cider for his thirst.
"Why, sure you can; it's easy Sonny, after nine straight years in first!"

We laughed and then he took a nap; his skin grew pale and lighter.
I loved his wrinkled face and brow, this great old freedom fighter.
He had a restful sleep awhile snoring soft and steady.
I wonder if Great Grandpa knows I'm missing him already.

more by Alan Balter

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Has this poem touched you? Share your story!
  • by Subhash Bansal
  • 1 month ago

Balter's poem reminds me of my own grandfather whom I lost 49 years ago when he was 94. I remember his two habits very lucidly. He was a frugal eater. He used to weigh his food every time before eating. He often told me that he could calculate all the food eaten by him during his lifetime.

The other habit was of punctuality. I do not remember any occasion when he was late. My father inherited this habit from him and now I, too, sincerely try to maintain my time though not as successfully as he. He was a quick learner at the age of 94. Despite being 5th grade pass, he learned our national language (Hindi) in a very short time. He made a pact with me that he would teach me Urdu while I would give him lessons in Hindi. I feel ashamed in telling that he learned Hindi from me whereas I couldn't pick Urdu because of my carelessness and laziness.

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