Miss Wilms

There were three Wilms sisters.
Long after that generation was gone,
I discovered they had a brother
who served with my grandfather in WWI.

They never told my grandmother she had cancer.
She was in the hospital for months,
but the grandchildren were not allowed to visit,
because we might tell.

I was only eight years old
when my grandmother died.
I remember most of all
the delicious smells of her kitchen.

My mother adored her mother-in-law.  She told us
how much my grandmother loved us, the children
of her son, her only child.  My grandmother’s sister,
unmarried, childless, became her surrogate.

When we lived in Baltimore, Aunt Lil
came to dinner almost every Sunday.
She taught us to play poker,
and called my father “Chickie”.

I cried on the the train from New York on the way
 to my great-aunt’s funeral.  I was allowed to take
a jade vase from her apartment.  I still have it,
along with the ashtray we gave her that says “Miss Wilms”.

For the dVerse prompt from Sarah where she asks us to write about grandmothers.

Aunt Lil made this vase, trying to capture the color in a Van Gogh painting that she loved. The painting on the shelf behind it is one of Nina’s.