< meta charset="UTF-8"> Haibun Today: A Haibun & Tanka Prose Journal
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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & Owner
Ray Rasmussen, General Editor

Volume 13, Number 4, December 2019
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Bryan Rickert
Belleville, Illinois, USA


Namesake

We travel through a tropical paradise of mango trees, getaway homes for the rich. A constant ocean breeze comes through the car’s windows: smells of tropical flowers and exotic dense foliage. Eventually we arrive at grandma’s “box.” That is what the locals call these small concrete homes, built long ago to withstand time and hurricanes. All have a cistern and kitchen built outside. My wife and I have come back here so our youngest daughter can meet the woman she is named after. Grandma, now in her nineties, is recovering from a stroke and has been bedridden. Our daughter, just nine, is recovering from one as well. This is her first trip since she was a baby to the place that my wife's father and uncles left for a better life in America.

We enter the box, find grandma in her medical bed where a small couch used to be. It has been a few years since we visited and we aren't prepared for the toll time and illness have taken. The matriarch of a family spread out over several continents, she always had a commanding presence—when she spoke, everyone obeyed—and though well under five feet tall was not to be trifled with. Now she struggles to sit up. My daughter approaches. Both of them so petite, struggling so hard with their medical issues, yet showing a strength well past their size. I do not know if it was coincidence or fate that ours was the only child in the family named after her grandma. With little hesitation my daughter whispers the heartfelt phrase she has been practicing for days: Je t’aime grand-mère.

ancestral home
the old grinding stone
becomes a doorstop

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