Betty

Today would have been my mother-in-law’s 85th birthday. As an awkward 20 year old newlywed, I didn’t know what to call her. Mrs. Bell felt too formal. Didn’t know if I should call her Mom. So I didn’t call her anything. It took me years to be able to call her Betty.

She loved me and loved on me. As a mother of three boys, I think she was glad to have a daughter. She always remembered birthdays, anniversaries, Mother’s Day. She bought Key Lime pie when I visited. When she hugged me she would tell  me I smelled good. This poem is for her.

 

August 21, 2017

 

The phone rang early in the murky sleep-state of morning

Packed a bag, boarded the dog, headed home

Into the day-darkness of that solar eclipse

Alabama to  Florida

Ominous shadowed light dimly glowed all around me

Driving home to say goodbye

To someone who loved me unconditionally

Pulled off at a rest stop

Where a stranger loaned me his glasses

To behold this obscurity of the sun

As I looked through bleak eyes

To a future without her

 

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Mom

80a

April, 2016

 

Mom was born April 9, 1936. She would have been 83 today. It’s been 14 months since she died. So many little things happen throughout the days that knock me back, that remind me over and over that she isn’t here. I wrote the following poem in April, 2010. It was the first year I completed the PAD Challenge. I never really shared my poetry with her. Haven’t really shared it with anyone much in my family. Perhaps I should apply these words of Ray Bradbury…

“Self-consciousness is the enemy of all art.”

 

Mother

There at the end of the line
The hand of my dear mother
Her sweet comfort, it was mine

Never a woman so fine
There is not another
There at the end of the line

Her spirit, gentle, kind
None else would I rather
Her sweet comfort, it was mine

Growing round her like a vine
Myself, my brothers
There at the end of the line

So lovely, so divine
No, there is no other
Her sweet comfort, it was mine

For days of old I pine
Yes, one after another
There at the end of the line

PAD 2019 – #2 – Mary Cassatt

Day four’s prompt was to write about a painter. I chose Mary Cassett.

 

Thank You, Mary Cassatt

 

no need to be a mother

to portray the loveliness

tender and soft

of mother and child

but her woman’s touch

and child’s heart

has given us a glimpse

of a love so real

her courage as a woman

in a man’s world

has given us beauty

has given us joy

in the high calling

of motherhood

Vaccinate yourself right into the streams…of the people

Daniel Frese

Photo by Daniel Frese

“The worst thing that can happen to you is to cut yourself lose from people. And the best thing is to sort of vaccinate yourself right into the streams and blood of the people. To feel like you know the best and the worst of folks that you see everywhere and never to feel weak, or lost, or even lonesome anywhere.” – Woody Guthrie

 

I was in the library a few weeks ago. This happened…

 

Sisters

 

Two sisters twirl on the twirly chairs

as Mom sits nearby on her phone

at the back of the library

 

One ashy blonde. one curly brunette

perhaps ten and eight

in library quietness they don’t disturb

 

Gently gliding on the tabletop

and plopping on the comfy couch

entertaining each other in silence

 

The elderly man in brown slacks

and a pale yellow button-down shirt

sits reading a large-print western novel

 

When he stands to leave he wobbles

trying to get his cane and legs in sync

without dropping his book

 

The blonde rushes over to assist him

though he is steady by then, but she hovers

just in case

 

Mom never notices

and I want to tell her

you’ve got lovely daughters, kind daughters

but as they leave her phone is at her ear

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pre-PAD Poetry

memomkat

I look forward to April every year. It’s like a magical month that kickstarts my poetic creativity, thanks most especially to Robert Brower over at Writers Digest.  This week I was subbing in a middle school class that had to complete a metaphor poem. I tried my hand at a writing a few. Here’s the first one…

Tightrope

Motherhood is a tightrope walk

Between birth and death a mother balances,

shifting her weight just slightly

to accommodate the ever changing tension

Swaying on her soft shoes, she grips with all she’s got

Trying to maintain her center, she walks

high above in terror and love,

without a safety net

 

And Adam called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. Genesis 3:20

 

 

 

My Solace

0514151006b

 

No Hard Feelings by the Avett Brothers has been my solace for the past year, though at times I’ve had to skip it on my playlist because it almost always makes me cry. I lost my mother-in-law in August 2017, then my Mom in February 2018, and today my dog, Loretta. Yes, I understand there are huge differences in losing a pet vs. a person, but when one comes on the heels of the other it is just nearly too much.

The song begins
“When my body won’t hold me anymore
And it finally lets me free
Will I be ready?”

I wasn’t ready to let any of them go, but in Loretta’s case, I think SHE was ready. She had a good life and enriched ours in so many ways.

Then
“When my feet won’t walk another mile.”
My dog, Loretta, hit this point  so suddenly last night I can’t wrap my head around it. She was fine and peppy one minute, then lethargic and unresponsive the next. She perked up once for a few minutes, a sort of last hurrah I guess, then just could hardly move. My husband carried her to our room where we’d made her a soft blanket “pallet” to lie on. We finally fell asleep, but both awoke at 2AM to sit on the floor beside her as she drew her last breath. I can only guess it was her heart giving out.

Listen to this song – more than once if you can. It is overflowing in meaning and may be a balm for YOUR spirit.

 

Monday Music #21

jjgrey

“… for music alone can abolish differences of language or culture between two people and evoke something indestructible within them.” –  from Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky

 

 

I was introduced to the music of JJ Grey and Mofro, many years back by my daughter. I’ve only seen him in concert twice; once in concurrence with the Jacksonville Symphony (with my daughter)  and then again in Birmingham (with my husband). On my many trips from Jacksonville to Tampa I’ve driven through Lochloosa and I always think of Grey’s love for Florida.

buck

View from the Buckman Bridge – 2013

 

My father-in-law had a little trailer in Astor on the St. Johns River for many years.  The pictures below are from a trip I took up the river with my brother-in-law and niece back in 2012. We went out to Lake George and stopped at Silver Glen Springs. It was one of the most relaxing days I’ve ever spent.

 

 

This song, The River, grips me every time I hear it. Growing up minutes from the St. Johns in Jacksonville, I never appreciated it like I do now. As a kid, it was just the river we crossed to get to downtown. Now I understand a little more about the vastness and beauty it contains. I long to get back to this river someday.