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Collector of Poetry, Even in Heaven: A Letter to My Grandmother

June 11, 2018 by

My grandmother Ellen Keiderling died last year on June 11, after Alzheimer’s disease decayed her once-brilliant mind over her final decade. I’ve missed her a lot this last year, and wrote her this letter. (We always called her “Oma,” which is German for “grandmother.”)

Ellen and Esther

Dear Oma Ellen,

I hope they have typewriters in heaven so you can write a hilarious letter back. One day I’ll come up and type for you again. You were always so patient with my hunt-and-peck work; you always had faith that one day I could be as good a secretary as you were.

Now that you live with Emily Dickinson, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Edna St. Vincent Millay, TS Eliot, and all the others you can get yourself a huge poetry collection even better than the one you had here on earth, which is hard to imagine. I can’t wait till we can sit on a cloud, and read and memorize it together. It will be such fun.

I’m sure there are lots of flowers in heaven, especially your favorite chicory. Some people called our bouquets weeds but you taught me to find beauty and thrill in everything, even unpopular things like chicories and winter.

Most of all, I’m sure that you are a mighty warrior in God’s army. You were refined by fire here on earth and you endured to the end. God has a purpose for each of us, and now you know what that purpose is.

You always said that I am just like you. Does that mean I will answer God’s call with such exuberance and conviction as you did? Does that mean I could stay faithful to him, even if I suffer loneliness, pain, sickness, and death?

I’ll never forget how we used to try to outdo each other in love. If I said “I love you up to the sky” you’d say “I love you up to the stars,” and so on. I guess you don’t do that anymore in heaven because God’s love is so overwhelmingly powerful and greater than any love we can imagine. But since I’m still on earth I’ll close by saying that I love you around the world, around the universe, and up to heaven.

Lots of love,

Your granddaughter Esther


About the author

Esther Keiderling

Esther Keiderling

Esther Keiderling lives and works at the Woodcrest Bruderhof.

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  • Absolutely spot on, Esther! Keep it up. Your Oma’s character came through. Madeleine L’Engle writes about heaven-- sitting on the organ bench with Grandpa Bach, or walking on the moor with Charlotte Bronte. May we all one day, but for now there is plenty of heavenly stuff right here: what a blessing! Thanks again.

    David M.
  • Thank you for heartfelt words. I believe that dear Ellen Keiderling sees us over the heaven and still helps us for the peace. May she rest in peace, Thank you Esther.