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Grandma’s Disease by Virginia Day McDonald

August 13, 2021

I came across the following poem, when archiving documents for the small town of Axedale, the place of my One Place Study, Axedale Then and Now The poem made me chuckle, so I thought I’d share it. I’m sure many genealogists/family historian’s will identify with this Grandma. The poem was printed in the Axedale Antics, the Axedale community newspaper in September 2000. According to the Axedale Antics the author was unknown. I googled it but couldn’t find an author.

After publishing the poem with unknown author, and promoting it on Twitter, one of my Twitter friends, Jenny Hart very quickly told me that she found the author named in the Gwinnet Historical Society Journal, September Issue, 1987. Grandma’s Disease was attributed to Virginia Day McDonald, of Macon, Georgia. Gwinnet is a suburban county of Georgia, USA.

There’s been a change in Grandma, we’ve noticed her of late
She’s always reading history, or jotting down some date
She’s tracking back the family, we’ll all have a pedigree
Oh, Grandmas got a hobby – she’s climbing the FAMILY TREE

Poor Grandpa does the cooking, and now or so he states
That worst of all he has to wash the cups and dinner plates
Grandma can’t be bothered, she’s busy as a bee
Compiling genealogy for the FAMILY TREE

She has no time to babysit, the curtains are a fright
No buttons left on Grandpa’s shirt, the flower bed’s a sight
She’s given up her club work, and the soaps on TV
The only thing she does any more, is climb the FAMILY TREE

Away she goes to the court house, and studies ancient lore
We know more about our forebears than we ever did before
The books are old and dusty, they make poor Grandma sneeze
A minor irritation, when you’re climbing FAMILY TREES

The mail is all for Grandma, it comes from near and far
Last week she got the proof she needs to join the DAR
A monumental project, all do agree
All from climbing THE FAMILY TREE

Now some folks come from Scotland, some from Galway Bay
Some were French as pastry, some German all the way
Some went west to stake their claims, some stayed there by the sea
Grandma hopes to find them all, as she climbs the FAMILY TREE

She wanders through the graveyard, in search of date and name
The rich, the poor, the in-between, all sleeping there the same
She pauses now and then to rest, fanned by a gentle breeze
That blows above the fathers, of all our family trees

There are pioneers and patriots, missed in our kith and kin
Who blazed the paths of wilderness, and fought through thick and thin
But none more staunch than Grandma, whose eyes light up with glee
Each time she finds a missing branch, for the FAMILY TREE

Their skills were wide and varied, from carpenter to cook
And one, alas, the records show, was hopelessly a crook.
Blacksmith, weaver, farmer, judge – some tutored for a fee
Once lost in time, now all recorded on the FAMILY TREE

To some it’s just a hobby, to Grandma, it’s much more,
she learns the joys and heataches of those that went before
They loved, they lost, they laughed, they wept – and now, for you and me
They live again in spirit around the FAMILY TREE

At last, she’s nearly finished, and we are each exposed
Life will be the same again, this we all supposed
Grandma will cook and sew, serve cookies with our tea.
We’ll all be fat, just as before the wretched FAMILY TREE

Sad to relate, the preacher called and visited for a spell
They talked about the gospel, and other things as well
The heathen folk, the poor and then – ’twas fate, it had to be
Somehow the conversation turned to Grandma and the FAMILY TREE

He never knew his Grandpa, his mother’s name was…….Clark?
He and Grandma talked and talked, outside it grew quite dark
We’d hoped our fears were groundless, but just like some disease
Grandma’s become an addict – she’s hooked on FAMILY TREES

Our souls are filled with sorrow, our hearts sad with dismay
Our ears could scarce believe, the words we heard our Grandma say
“It sure is a lucky thing that you have come to me”
I know exactly how it’s done. I’ll climb your FAMILY TREE


Axedale Antics, September 2000. Editors: Ann Mason and Sarah Fahy.
Gwinnett Historical Journal, September issue, 1987, page 57.

©2021 copyright. All rights reserved

From → genealogy

  1. What a great poem Jen!

  2. Absolutely classic! So apt!

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