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

Advertisements

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

 

 

 

Life and Death

all-the-light-we-cannot-see-9781476746586_hr (1)

       

“We all come into existence as a single cell, smaller than a speck of dust. Much smaller. Divide. Multiply. Add and subtract. Matter changes hands, atoms flow in and out, molecules pivot, proteins stitch together, mitochondria send out their oxidative dictates; we begin as  microscopic swarm, the lungs the brain the heart. Forty weeks later, six trillion cells get crushed in the vise of our mother’s birth canal and we howl. Then the world starts in on us.”  -from All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

 

I love this description of the beginning of life. Job knew all about life and death. Oh to be like Job; to learn how to accept when the Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Here’s what he had to say: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.” – Job 1:21

I realize that I sometimes take the easy way out by quoting others, but sometimes someone else’s words are just a perfect fit for my needs.  Even when it’s a fictional character speaking, it was written by a person who more than likely had a similar experience.

ove (1)

“We always think there’s enough time to do things with other people. Time to say things to them. And then something happens and then we stand there holding on to words like “if.”

But we are always optimists when it comes to time: we think there will be time to do things with other people. And time to say things to them.

We fear it (death), yet most of us fear more than anything that it may take someone other than ourselves. For the greatest fear of death is always that it will pass us by. And leave us there alone.” – from A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

 
For the past few years I watched as my Mom lost several lifelong friends, which is bound to happen when you hit 80. But, it still doesn’t make it easier. In fact, it probably makes you think about death a little too much. Even though I saw this happening, I didn’t see it coming with Mom. And now, like Ove, I thought there would be more time. There were so many stories I didn’t hear, so many questions I didn’t ask, so much I didn’t say.

Thoughts Inspired by This is Us #1

I started binge watching This is Us in early February, and midway through season one, I got a call from my brother. Mom was gone. No forewarning, no long illness. This was Mom who, at 81, wasn’t on any meds except the recent prescription she’d finished taking for her knee. This was Mom, who told me she’d only had one headache in her life, who didn’t remember any symptoms of menopause except,  “Well, I guess I did get a little hot.” This was Mom who packed a pistol for her trips to Georgia, who drove her friends to the store and hairdresser, who ran the Bridge Club. Now, I will eventually go back to watching This is Us, but I’ll be thinking of all the This Was Us episodes of my life, Mom’s life, our life. Below is what I’d written before I got the call.

S1/E8                                                                                                                          Pilgrim Rick

Yes, it’s February and I’m watching Pilgrim Rick, the Thanksgiving episode from season one of This Is Us. Better late than never. I was able to watch the first two episodes online – enough to know I HAD to watch them all. The three day wait for my DVD to arrive from Amazon was a long stretch.

The tears began to roll when the Pearson family ended up at the Pinewood Lodge. My flashback was to Christmas of 1995. We were about to have an early Christmas dinner and celebration with my husband’s father who had traveled three hours to our house, when I got the call. My dad was sinking fast; I should come home. So, we packed it all up; some food; the kids unopened presents, including hockey sticks; clothes for a few days; presents for extended family; and then we piled into the car. Our younger son rode with Grandpa Bell, the rest of us were like sardines in a can, cushioned with jackets and backpacks and suitcases into our Chevy Lumina. On the road to Jacksonville we sang along to Stevie Wonder cassettes and I tried to prepare for what was ahead.

We were fortunate to stay in the Homewood Suites sans Pilgrim Rick, where we had our family Christmas, the six of us snuggled together. We opened presents and laughed and hugged, making bittersweet memories. That night our younger son saw Star Wars for the first time and now, 22 years later, he is still a fan.

The next day we spent time with my brothers and their families, trying to be cheerful but not sure how to act without Mom and Dad there. Dad rallied for a few weeks, and I was able to stay with him and Mom for part of that time. He died on January 6, 1996, Mom holding his hand and me holding Mom.

_______________________________________
S1/E11
“Do the Right Thing”

Watching Rebecca and her mother discuss the prospects of life with three babies brings me back to when I told my parents I was expecting for the first time. I was so excited, but my joy bubble burst when all I heard in their voices was doubt and worry. It took them a while to adjust to the idea, but they hit the road as soon as we called to tell them it was time. They made the four hour drive to Clearwater, arriving just minutes after the birth of our firstborn. They didn’t persuade us to return to Jacksonville, but when we decided, they had a home ready to rent to us. Four years later we purchased it and two more children later we sold it. With those two children there was still hesitation on their part, the slow acceptance that this was our life and our family. But, they were there for us over and over – loaning us money and babysitting and being there at the birth of not only those next two, but the last, also. They drove to Georgia to be there the day our youngest was born. Mom was with me up until the last few minutes.

Mom is still with me and I’m grateful for the support and model she has been. Not perfect, but neither am I. Not by a long shot. The picture is of Mom and me, both pregnant with our firstborn.

me n mom prego

_________________________________________

It wasn’t long after I’d typed those words “Mom is still with me” that I found out she wasn’t. I pray that all she taught and modeled for me will live on in me.

Can’t Separate

“It seemed so unfair: that time should render both sadness and happiness into a source of pain” – from A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

Today’s PAD challenge was to write a poem about family

 

3 g

Can’t Separate

Can’t separate me from the past
my grandfather’s desertion
my grandmother’s tenacity
the stories told and retold
by the aunts who remember

Can’t separate me from my childhood
Dad’s bellowing and invented words
Mom’s steadfastness and silly jokes
brothers by my side, happy or not
supper in the kitchen every night

Can’t separate me from those cousins
who made paper dolls for me
we swam and skated and pretended
and whispered into the night
those first and forever friends

Can’t separate me from my husband
who made a new family with me
who grew and stumbled by my side
the one who really knows me
and loves me anyway

Can’t separate me from my offspring
flesh of my flesh who look like their dad
my babies grown up too soon
across state lines and time zones
in joy and sorrow, mine

Can’t separate me from this next generation
the little ones who let me love on them
these two with bits of me inside
this hope for the future
this family of mine

Thoughts on the Words of C.S. Lewis – The Inns

Image

C.S. Lewis was a novelist, poet, academic, literary critic, essayist, lay theologian, and Christian apologist. He is probably best known as the author of The Chronicles of Narnia, but he wrote numerous other works, including “The Problem of Pain” from where the quotes in this series were taken.

“…a few moments of happy love, a landscape, a symphony, a merry meeting with our friends, a bath, or a football match. Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.”

I  am so blessed when I think about all the “inns” the Lord has provided for me, and so ashamed, too, of all the grumbling I do.

I have a happy love – we will celebrate 35 years in a little over a week. We will have a good time, quietly, perhaps spend the day just hanging out and eating something good, maybe shopping, but NOT in any mall.

I’ve enjoyed many lovely landscapes, but I’m especially glad to have a nice view right in my own backyard.

I’ve been to the symphony a handful of times and enjoyed the music there. But, in the milder weather, when it’s not too hot, and my doors and windows are open, I enjoy the symphony of birds and children’s laughter and bouncing balls.

God has given me a few great friends over the years and we’ve enjoyed some merry meetings.  I’ve bemoaned the lack of a friend many times in my life, much to my disgrace, so I am ever thankful now when God sends someone to me, a kindred spirit.

A good soak in a bath with bubbles is nice and a football game watched with my mom is fun.

I feel like I should break out in song right about now – “these are a few of my favorite things!” All these blessings and more I am grateful for, but I pray I will not mistake them for home.

But he shall receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life. – Mark 10:30

For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. –     I Timothy 6:7

Throwback Thursday – Mom

Image

As I looked at this picture of my mother, age ten, I was thinking about what to write. I love the photo, but I can’t just write about that. I love her smile, which is still the smile I see all the time. Then I noticed her hair. Parted down the middle. And that brought back memories.

When I was in 7th grade, we battled over my hair. She was of the opinion that parting my hair down the middle made me look like a hippie, so she didn’t let me. Only a side part or pulled back would do. So, I would go to school, go in the bathroom, and part my hair down the middle.

But then I forgot about picture day. Lo and behold, when my pictures came back, there I was, hippie girl. Mom was not pleased.

I had not seen this picture back then. Boy, if I had, what ammunition it would have been. I could have said, “Ah,HA! Look! If you wore your hair parted in the middle, so can I!” Like the way I said, “YOU got married at 18! “ I was 20, but not nearly as mature as she had been at 18. She was working at 14 because she had to. I was working at 16 because I was driving my parents crazy hanging around the house being lazy.

I do think I picked up some of her good habits. I’m pretty thrifty, I can cook well when I have to, and I sorta know how to shoot a gun. I hope that, years from now, if my kids see a picture of my ten year old self, they’ll do more than laugh.