Following My Grandmother
by Jennifer Finstrom

“We’ve found another hat,” my aunts tell me. And they send it in a box full of my grandmother’s books and scarves and bits of jewelry.

I’ve written about my grandmother before—her career as a library director, her memory loss, her life as a divorced mother of three—and my apartment houses stacks of her books, other hats, mountains of bright scarves, a metal tray piled high with clip-on earrings like a glittering assembly of beetles. When I take the hat out of the box, I imagine her removing it for the last time, not knowing that I would be the next to wear it. It’s possibly not a hat I would have noticed in the window of a boutique, brown with a white brim that can be worn up or down, but it’s both stylish and practical.

I feel a different connection with my grandmother since my own divorce: she is more to me now, a woman walking alone by choice, always a bit ahead of me in her good coats and well made shoes—but if I’m wearing her hat, I might just be able to catch up.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Me wearing the hat in the poem.


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I love hats (and all accessories), and the fact that I have—and wear—so many different accessories that belonged to my grandmother make me always feel close to her independent spirit. Of all of the things that I have of hers, though, hats seem the most special.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Me with my grandmother during one of her visits in the early 1980s. This was taken at my childhood home in West Allis, Wisconsin. My grandmother lived in Marquette, Michigan, and I saw her a couple of times of year when my family went there or when she came to visit us.


Jennifer Finstrom
 teaches in the First-Year Writing Program, tutors in writing, and facilitates writing groups at DePaul University. She has been the poetry editor of Eclectica Magazine since 2005, and recent publications include Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, Escape Into Life, NEAT, and Gingerbread House Literary Magazine. For Silver Birch Press, she has work appearing in The Great Gatsby Anthology, the Alice in Wonderland Anthology, IdesA Collection of Poetry Chapbooks, as well as the Nancy Drew Anthology.