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The Wisdom of Old Souls

Editor - Bonita Summers

Cover Image for Wisdom of Old Souls

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“The Wisdom of Old Souls” is a diverse collection of short stories and poetry celebrating grandmothers and honouring their personal histories, aspirations, and accomplishments. Readers will relate on many levels to these timeless tales of women whose influence lives on in the hearts of their children and grandchildren.

Welcome to a gallery of grandmothers! Enjoy their portraits in prose and poetry from the rich palates of children and grandchildren, some who are grandmothers themselves, eager to celebrate the women whose roots guide us and link us to the future. Whether a grandmother-moon, a French-Canadian seamstress, a quintessential granny who sews, quilts and bakes cookies, an earth-goddess, or the recreated ancestors of our imagination and longing, these grandmothers from many families, cultures and countries bridge time as their origins, wisdom, treasures and stories come alive on the page.

Donna Langevin
author of The Second Language of Birds and In the Café du Monde

The Wisdom of Old Souls, edited by Bonita Summers, is a moving collection of poems and stories, spanning from a Rhodesian prison home to a rural Quebec farmhouse. The images and vignettes smoulder and “spark across the generations,” oftentimes affirming “how living are the dead.” This anthology is like sepia portraits in a cherished scrapbook.

"Kate Marshall Flaherty, finalist for Descant's Best Canadian Poem for 2007, shortlisted for the Pablo Neruda Poetry Prize 2006, and author of three books of poetry."

The Wisdom of Old Souls makes you appreciate your grandmother or miss her dearly if she is not alive. Grandmothers are skilled in the art of quilting no-nonsense patterns of generational advice layered with love. Being a grandmother is the second breath of motherhood filled with a patchwork of traditions, woven with patience and kindness. Grandmothers are the rocking stitch that keeps families together. Rejoice in a berry-scented kitchen that is never closed. Be at peace with a grandmother's love that shows no boundaries. They are warriors whose ghosts come back to haunt us as a reflection of ourselves. Grandmothers know how to keep it real!

Oni the Haitian Sensation
Godmother of Canadian Slam

With great love and appreciation
to all the wise women
who grandmothered me
into the person I am today.


Grandmothers are our link between heaven and earth. They give us a warm place to land, helping us feel rooted within our families and inspiring us to reach for the stars with a limitless belief in the possibility of our accomplishments.
Grandmothers take the time to acknowledge us when our parents are too busy. They give us a glimpse of a past that we can only imagine through their stories. They encourage us to carry forward values and skills that would fade out of existence without their tutelage.
In this book, we celebrate the influence of older women: their wisdom and strength, the importance of their presence in our lives, and the beauty of memories we hold after their passing. Here, you will find tales of grandmothers in their youth, as they raised their children – and sometimes their grandchildren – and as they aged. What they have given us in terms of experience and understanding lasts long after they have left this world. May we all cherish the wisdom of old souls.

Editor, Bonita Summers

Table of Contents


Grandmother Moon – Michael Hurley – p. 1
A Singular Seamstress – R.D. Roy – p. 3
Quilts and Quirks – Karen L. Cole – p. 5
1918: Gram on the Danforth – Ruth E. Walker – p. 8
I Want My Grandma! – Patricia Anne Elford – p. 10
Love, Sacred – Theodore Christou – p. 12


A Culinary Connection – J. Graham Ducker – p. 15
From the Rocking Chair – Bonita Summers – p. 19
Gatherers – Kathryn MacDonald – p. 20
Grandmother’s Children     – K.V. Skene – p. 21
Routines and Recurrences – D.S. Martin – p. 22


Grandma Walks Beside Me – Ellen Curry  – p. 25
Grandma Tells Me Stories – Bonita Summers – p. 30
Mary Murchison McLeod – Winona Baker – p. 33


The Crazy Wisdom of Grandma Nuthin – Michael Hurley – p. 35
Identity – Kathryn MacDonald – p. 42
Planting Seeds in my
        Spiritual Garden – Carolyn Hei-Kyoung You – p. 43


Grannie’s Magic Thimble – Louise O’Donnell – p. 49
What Remains Hidden – Bonita Summers – p. 50
Emily’s Rocking Chair – Rebecca Luce-Kapler – p. 51
Grannie and the Bicycle     – Louise O’Donnell – p. 53
Queen Anne’s Lace – Caroline H. Davidson – p. 54


Across Generations – Kathryn MacDonald – p. 57
Old Granny in K-Town – Michael Hurley – p. 58
Room in My Heart – Ruth Zaryski Jackson – p. 60
Granny’s Garden – Ann Peacock – p. 61


A Very Good Soul – John Pigeau – p. 65
Grandma Lebedow –  Elynne Chaplik-Aleskow – p. 71
Translating Grandma – K.V. Skene – p. 74
Anticipated Visits – Carolyn R. Wilker – p. 75


From the Nursing Home Window – Janet L. Harvey – p. 79
Babusia’s Hands – Raïssa Chernushenko – p. 81
Patterns     – Louise O’Donnell – p. 84
The Golden Years – Janet L. Harvey – p. 85
For an Old Woman Who Carried On – K.V. Skene – p. 87


Learning to Lie – Laurie Lewis – p. 89
Grandma’s House – Judith Cleland – p. 96
Martha McKay Brown – Kathleen M. Martin – p. 97
Skoochimaru – Anne Watson-Russell – p. 104
Ottawa Valley Lascaux – Patricia Anne Elford – p. 105

Biography of the Editor – p. 108
Author Biographies – p. 109