When your granddaughter Molly came for a visit and brought her children, Grace and Gannon, I reminded you that Grace had been named for Dad’s mother, a devoted and loving young woman who died of meningitis when Dad was only three years old. When I told you this, you shook your head and said, “Oh?” And later, when I tried again, you asked, “Do I know her? Was she my friend?”
No, Mom, you never actually knew Grace Shipley Shepherd. But I do believe that you two became friends because of your grateful heart for the woman who gave birth to the baby…who grew into the man you married.
You don’t remember this, but thirty-eight years ago you wrote a poem to Grace. You sometimes felt her presence, the spirit of the woman who lost her battle against a horrible disease and could not stay to take care of the little boy she loved so much. You also wrote some beautiful, very personal letter-type essays to Grace, but I know you wouldn’t want those shared, so I won’t.
Here, Mom, is your poem “To Grace,” your tribute and comfort to the woman who had to leave her child behind. Sometimes during clear moments when I’ve shown you pictures of Dad as a baby, held by his smiling mother, Grace, you pause and close your eyes. I like to believe that now Dad is gone, reunited with the mother he lost too soon, he and Grace both smile and send their love and thanks to you.
TO GRACE, 1897-1922 ~ by Mary E. Shepherd
I watch him sleep, so like a little boy,
Content so long as his hand touches mine.
Husband, dad and granddad kind and dear,
The glint of dreams come true when our eyes meet.
I think of how, a three year old, he lost you,
His mother, whom he loved so very much.
You were so ill, a terrible pain within you,
Unable to express the love you knew.
Then when you died he sat in his daddy’s arms,
Aware that something great had left his life.
And when he looked upon your lifeless face
He searched in vain for the sweet smile he knew.
No one could take the place of his lost loved one,
Though his dad was good and did the best he could.
Grandma became the one who understood, his mainstay,
To help him through the years a young boy knew.
For fifty years my dearest, my husband and a little boy!
I’ve known the love you planted in his heart.
Kind, good, and loving, he shares my life each day,
As many paths we have traveled, side by side.
Together we have loved our little boy:
The one you gave to me.