Our Family | By: Abbey Gray | | Category: Short Story - Family Issues Bookmark and Share

Our Family

My great-grandmother, Maggie Stahl, wrote this poem. I thought I would submit it in memory of her.


Our Family


God gave us two little girls and a boy

With whom to share our pride and joy.

Enid, Frank and Geraldine,

With a sister and brother gone from between.


Etched on my heart to my dying day

Is memory of our little ones who were taken away.

These two little babes, named Therin and Grace

Each like an angel had a sweet face.

And were laid in their caskets lined with lace

Near their grandparents Gray

Into whose arms I hope Jesus has them placed.


When Frank was but a lad of three

A mechanic we were sure he’d be.

While under our old rocking chair

I said, “Frank, what are you doing there?”

“I’m geesing (greasing) it, Mommy, I’m geesing it.”

It still squeaks.


Near me through all of this I recall

Has been my wonderful mother-in-law.

And we never will forget the winter

When the lights we had to dimmer,

And of enough serum that couldn’t be bought

To save the lives of our two little tots.

And the time we had to choose

Which one of these to save or which to loose.

When Enid was ten and Frank about six

Were out to their grandparents Stahl, very sick.

With whooping cough and pneumonia.


An illness struck our boy, not eight

And removal of a rib did necessitate.

Through many weeks of gentle care,

The Angel of Death did hover there.

And I prayed a prayer in my silent grief

That he might be spared his life so brief.

From this illness his life was frail

As a cobweb out in the hail.

And when in delirium to me his said,

“Mother, I’m hanging from the sky on a thread.”

When the crisis had passed one night,

I was awakened by the flash of light.

Says he, “Mother, I was trying my new flashlight.”

This was a gift from his grandmother Gray

And with the passing of each day

His desire for a bicycle grew and grew

A wish, which eventually did come true.

Each day a new toy found its way to his bed

Including a bright tin monkey with a red head

Which hung on a cord right over his bed.

And made of a hundred discs

Which he took apart with his own little fists.

And could not put together again.

As the days of his convalescence came to an end

And school again resumed

The roses came to blend his pallid cheeks with bloom.

Summer passed and winter came

We still had our son to carry on our name.


Now it seems as though this family of five

Was doomed to loose some of its paradise.

About three years later in the fall of the year

Our youngest daughter and very dear

Took typhoid fever and became very ill.

And once again against our will

We came face to face with the Reaper

Whose name is Death

And with his sickle keen

He reaps the bearded grain at a breath

And the flowers that grow between.

A trained nurse stood with us by her bed each day

To plead with the Angel of Death to please go away.

The nurse had a small granddaughter

Who was a schoolmate

Of our blue eyed daughter

With the pretty brown pate.

And in her delirium she says to Daisy Brown,

“You are not the only cheese in town.

I’ve blown the enamel all off from this mug.”

Day after day in her delirium

She read, she sang and did arithmetic

And lived on buttermilk not even thick.

An older sister with freckles and auburn curls

And eyes like sky blue pearls

Stood with their brother outside her window

Each day on their way to school

With hopes in their hearts that she could go

With them right after Yule.

On cold starry nights under our old apple tree

I prayed to God to please answer me

And my prayer was answered by God in Heaven

Because he had spared our girl not eleven.

Christmas of that December

Brought joy and tears we all remember.

A bag of gifts from her Sunday school class

With one for each day for two weeks did last.

And from Rebecca Lodge came a beautiful dolly

Brought on Christmas morning by Susan Shawley.

And a few years later our little lass

Graduated valedictorian of her class.


One day from upstairs, I heard Enid scream,

“Mama, come quick. He’s beating the tar out of me!”

She against the wall in fright did stand

With a shoe held high in her right hand.

Says Frank, “Give me my sheepskin knuckle pads

What really soft walking you have had.”


While hunting her schoolwork, said Geraldine

To Enid one day, “Where is that magazine?

You read out too often

I’m going to stop talking.”

And she grabbed Enid’s fancy work of French knots

And from throwing them in the fire I had trouble to stop


Now there is still a dent in our living room wall

Where Geraldine threw the scissors at Frank Stahl.

And very fine stitches she truly could make

He, her elbow once too often did shake.

But her aim was too high or her brother too quick

I wonder now which one I did lick.


Enid was the first to graduate

Then came Geraldine

Each to leave home not long to wait

In the near future we hope to be

All together again with Frank to celebrate.


Out of feed sacks Geraldine makes dresses

To Gramps Hops she will take Larry she guesses.

Now Enid and John for clothes have a flare

But soon will have diapers and formula to prepare.

And Frank at Camp Phillips says he

Wonders, “What model it will be.”


Before a stove could be moved by Bill Stahl

He would have to take even the pictures from the wall.

Bald head Frank like bald head Bill

Have but few hairs on their head and never will.


Frank like Tarzan has long arms

Carl should have him to put hay in his barns.


Beautiful Tawny with his amber eyes and golden fur

Of all birds, sparrows he preferres.

He is buried now beneath my tulip bed

Please step with caution if there you tread.

We loved him.


We will ever remember the day

Of a scene on a street corner far away.

On a Sunday in August near Camp Crowder

The city of old Neosha

No family could have been prouder

Of his salute to Captain Mosher

By our son, Frank, in soldier’s uniform.

With tears in our eyes we recalled the day he was born

And with our hand clasped a little tighter

Before we all said, “Good-bye, dear.”

He looked at his small nephew of not two years

Who had his parents with lollipop smeared

Then he turned to me and said,

“Mother, are they worth it?”


One Sunday in stormy January

At the dinner table we did tarry

Waiting for a long distance call.

“Hello, Camper Crowder, hello?

Am I speaking to Private Frank Stahl?”

“Yes, Mother, it is I.”

After which we all both laughed and cried.


In soldier’s uniform so tall and straight

Frank was trained and ready to leave the states.

But fate stepped in and took a hand

Which kept him for going to war in a foreign land.

On a fourteen-mile forced march one very warm day

He fell to the ground with his pack

And there in the dust he lay

And to a hospital not far back

They took him at dusk of that day.

And though now he is better we do not know

Just when he may have a furlough.

And it has been a year and more

Since we have seen our solider boy

Private Frank Stahl was graduated in July 23, 1942

From Motor Transport School

Of the Signal Corps Replacement Training Center

At Camp Crowder, Missouri.


On some future tomorrow

Will you please sing this song for me?

His Eye is on The Sparrow

And I know his watches me.


Please read with close attention

And I know you will

Here is what I wish to mention

I want to thank you all, my dears,

For your love and care when I’ve been ill.

Now if in future years

These few lines should bring you tears.

Please remember that not for praise or glory

Have I striven to tell this story

Of the days we have shared together

Of both bad ones and the better.

And I hope when I am gone

These memoirs will linger on.

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