Journal on My Grandmother Would Rock Quietly and Hum by Leonard Adame

Essay by Serena_DangCollege, UndergraduateA, June 2009

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My Grandmother Would Rock Quietly and Hum by Leonard Adame is a remembrance of his grandmother who was an important part of his childhood. Through the memories of his dead grandmother he is able to show the readers his appreciation and love toward the beloved and kind Mexican deceased.

The poem has amazing imagery setting, which creates the vivid nostalgic atmosphere. Adame begins his story with the image of his grandma rocking quietly in her armchair, maybe for hours, for he stated “until her swelled hands/calmed.” This is a common scene of elderliness, when people enjoy the calm and slow movement of time, silently rocking on the armchair watching the day passing by. She appears to be a typical grandma, who would feel cold in a hot summer day to wear thick socks and big sweaters. In the writer’s memory his grandma was really old and weak. She is also a person who would be glad to save any penny, as she laughs greedily going to Payless to buy cheap shoes.

Even knowing Payless always sells cheap products, she would still wait until the check comes. This could be an embarrassing memory for a kid to be with his grandma, who goes excessively happy to save a few cents. However Adame’s flashback is immediately followed by the recall of his grandmother’s warm and kind hearted actions. Every morning, when it is still early at dawn “sunlight barely lit/the kitchen”, his grandma would wake up before everybody else in the family, and prepare breakfast. The sound and smell of potatoes in frying saucepan would always wake him up, as a warm nurturous feeling to start the day. And although she makes nice hot meal for her children, she herself cannot enjoy it. She has lost her teeth, and can only eat bread soaked in coffee. As a kid perhaps he did not understand the feeling of that daily routine, but as he grows up and looks back to the past, it has a heartbreaking emotion. Adame realizes how hard it was for his grandmother. He also remembers how loving and caring she was to him.

To Adame his grandmother does not only bring a soothing sensation. She was his role model, the one he looks up to. He remembered “always her eyes/ were clear/ and she could see/ as I cannot yet see-” as she is wise and knowledgeable. Adame wants to have those “clear eyes”, to know what she knows, to feel what she feels. His grandmother would give all herself, to tell him about her past in Mexico, about things he never knew. She tells him about his native country, about his grand grandfather, about how he passed away, about the things he did not see with his eyes, did not feel with his heart. Although he does remember those stories, when he goes back to “the old house” with the armchair’s shuffling sound echoing in his head, he does not belong to her Mexican heritage. The Mexico in him is fading as his grandmother’s “fading/calendar pictures.” Although the image of his grandma rocking on her chair telling the stories is carved into his heart, those stories have never been his to feel.

My Grandmother Would Rock Quietly and Hum has rich imagery and simple language, which helps setting the scene into Adame’s childhood remembrance. He uses his youthful voice as a kid to portray his much-loved grandma although he can never feel himself blending into her Mexican influence.

Work CitedAdame, Leonard. My Grandmother Would Rock Quietly and Hum. Rpt. in Compact Literature ReadingReacting Writing. By Kirszner and Mandell. 6th ed. 2007.