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A Late Afternoon with My Grandpa

By Dr. Don Thomas & Elena Thomas:

Dr. Don Thomas & his "gaggle" of granddaughters—Standing: Leanne, Elena, Camille; Sitting: Hilary (daughter), Mazzy, Daniela, Julia, Daisy, Chloe.

The Flapper Press Poetry Café is always on the lookout for poetry and random expressions of creativity that celebrate the human spirit and the many wonders swirling 'round this random world. Every once in a while, a poetic jewel appears out of the blue that catches our eye and pulls at a heart string or two. Such is the case with the discovery of a recent Facebook post from the feed of Dr. Don Thomas, the father of one of my long-time collaborators from the Lineage Performing Arts Center in Pasadena, CA. Don is a retired surgeon, a full-fledged member of the Lineage family in more ways than one, and a true character with a heart of gold and a philanthropic soul.

We reached out to Don to ask if we might share this work here at Flapper Press. With the permission of the poet (his granddaughter Elena), we present this remarkable poem below.


Elena recently visited with me. She is my granddaughter who now lives in Seattle. It made my day that she had time during her Southern California visit to come by my place.

She sent me this poem after she returned home.

Getting a poem like this from a loving granddaughter makes it really worthwhile to get old.

A Late Afternoon with My Grandpa

he passes me his laptop a mary oliver poem pulled up on the screen hum, i believe was the poem’s name and he asks me to read it aloud to him.

i have always loved how he asks me to read to him this poem or that which he specifically picked out

last time, it was a poem celebrating finding your way

this time, hum inspires us to know wonder to find awe and to embrace the marvelous places where it reveals itself which is, indeed, everywhere

he asks if i’ve been doing any creative writing and i think, no indeed i have not, and do i ever? maybe i should try it.

we go forth into the world in search of sushi

we chat on the parents’ divorce and our mutual encouragement at seeing my dad come alive at his refinding of himself we chat on how deeply we admire my beautiful and hardworking mother

my grandpa asks me to lend him a hand so we walk like that from the car hand in hand towards the restaurant down one of old town pasadena’s beautiful cobble-stoned back alleyways

over miso soup we talk further on ideas of wonder and amazement mary oliver ever present and on the yearnings and various methods of seeking that all elusive other, that unnamed unknowable

i hear him describe the changes he’s been adjusting to since the surgeries and i, not sure of myself, say “i’m sorry, that must be hard.” with emphasis he genuinely responds “Don’t feel sorry for me! I am so grateful To be alive! And to experience this at all!” and Shehecheyanu springs to mind.

my grandpa mentions that he thinks he overuses the word “wonderful” but I think he uses it just the right

—Elena Thomas Carlson


The Flapper Press Poetry Café.

Presenting a wide range of poetry with a mission to promote a love and understanding of poetry for all. We welcome submissions for compelling poetry and look forward to publishing and supporting your creative endeavors. Submissions may also be considered for the Pushcart Prize.

Submission Guidelines:

1. Share at least three (3) poems

2. Include a short bio of 50–100 words, written in the third person.

(Plus any website and links.)

3. Share a brief backstory on each submitted poem

4. Submit an Author's photo and any images you want to include with the poems

5. Send all submissions and questions to:

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