In the lobby of the Grande Hotel,
Sat a prim and proper little old lady,
Wearing sensible shoes and spotless white gloves,
Her dress was a simple floral print,
Nothing too elaborate,
Yet, not completely in keeping with the
Grandeur of the Grande Hotel. On her head
She wore a small white hat
With a bit of a veil that came over her forehead
And I noticed her handbag was also white,
With a gold clasp.
While she didn’t look out of place,
Neither did she appear to be the kind of clientele
One sees I the lobby of the Grande Hotel.
I watched her unobtrusively from behind the desk,
Thinking perhaps she was meeting someone here.
The grandfather clock in the lobby struck two,
Then three and still she sat, patiently sitting,
Observing the people
Who came through the revolving doors.
Curious, when the Bell Captain passed by my desk,
I hissed to get his attention,
And he stopped to see what I wanted.
“The little old woman sitting over there in the lobby”
I said, “Do you recognize her? Is she a hotel guest?”
He looked over and shook his head, “No, I don’t think so
I’ve never seen her before,” he replied continuing
On his way. I left my post to go on a dinner break,
Forgetting for a while, the little old lady in the lobby—
But when I returned an hour later—there she was,
Still sitting, unruffled, patiently waiting.
I could stand it no longer; I approached the little old lady
And sat down beside her.
“Are you waiting for someone, mam? “ I asked,
“Are you a guest of the hotel?”
She smiled at me and said “Oh no, I’m not a guest here.
I’m just waiting for my grandson”
“Your grandson?” I said, “What time was
He supposed to be here?”
Her brow furrowed; “I’m not sure”
She said slowly, “But he said he would come”
“Where does your grandson live?” I asked,
“Live?” she repeated, “he doesn’t live anywhere
“Mam,” I repeated, but she cut me off. “He’s dead,
You know. He died in Iraq, but he said he would
Meet me here on my birthday so of course, here I am”
“Of course,” I repeated slowly, wondering what to do,
And as I wondered a soldier came through
The revolving doors of the Grande Hotel
And I could see through him;
I knew he wasn’t really there.
H came and knelt down before the old lady
And said “Here I am Grammy”, I’ve come
To take you home.
And as quickly as that, the soldier disappeared—
And the little old lady slumped down in the chair,
And without a word, passed away.
Sandra Lee Smith originally composed September 16, 2009. As poems go, this is one of my favorites.
Updated July 16, 2018,
Dedicated to my Grandma Schmidt I’m sorry I wasn’t there in time.