For my grandmother, Mary Mansour Durel.
She wrote poetry and read voraciously. In 2013, she self-published her poetry; it filled an entire book. That book sits by my bed and I trace her life through the poems, following her across the country from West Virginia, through Mexico, Georgia and everywhere in between.
She was an English teacher, got a Master’s and then married and had 4 kids. She told me stories about students begging her to not make them speak in front of the class–seems like I got my teaching style from her.
As long as I knew her, she always had a couple wriggly dachshunds running around. She’d sing to them and grumbled about the tunnels they dug in her yard. And then write poetry about the dog burrows.
She smoked cigarettes on her back porch and crocheted elaborate lacey things. When my mom first divorced, they would smoke and crochet together, bonding by talking crap about men.
She was tiny, under 5 feet, but had a way of staring down her nose at you just the same. Last year, a stranger called her an “adorable old lady.” She pratically snarled at the memory when she told us the story.
She would email me. We’d exchange book recommendations, discuss her dogs, the weather, and why my getting lost in Madrid at 2 a.m. was a terrible idea. She’d lecture me about my copious use of F-bombs on Facebook. She encouraged me to keep writing and to keep traveling the world.
She was an incredible woman.
I miss her.