On this Mother’s Day weekend, I’m sharing a poem that I wrote and gave to my mother the year before she died. She’s been gone for fourteen years but I still miss her—especially on this holiday. Remembering her specific actions of love is my way of honoring her.
Dad planted rosebushes along the side of our house. Mom loved them and cared for them with diligence.
Sharing about my mom stirs up a lot of emotions—loneliness, because I miss her; sadness, because I’m not able to send her flowers, make a meal or buy a gift; a little bit of regret, because of things I wish had done or not done; but, thankfully, no anger, because I’ve accepted who she was and let go of my demand for her to be a “perfect” mother.
Learning to let go of my demand for perfection from Mom and accepting her as she was has progressively freed me from the demand for perfection that I placed on myself. I’ve discovered that accepting my mother is inseparably connected to accepting myself—because, in many ways, I am just like her.
Today, remembering my mother stirs up mostly positive emotions—gratitude, for her kindness and generosity; admiration, for her talents and creative use of them; deep thankfulness, for her sacrifices of love; and joy, because I know that someday I will be reunited with her.
Thank you, Mother–
For keeping me in clean, dry diapers–in the days before disposable ones.
You washed them with hand-made soap and water heated in a boiler on the wood-stove.
For keeping me well-clothed;
You made beautiful hand-smocked dresses and warm coats from hand-me-downs.
For making sure I had fresh milk to drink.
You got up before dawn to milk the cow in an unheated barn, and you fed the kittens, too.
For introducing me to poetry;
I can still “hear” your voice reciting:”In winter I get up by night” and “I have a little shadow.”
For teaching me to read so early in life;
In second grade, I won the prize for reading the most books that one-room, eight-grade school.
For making sure I got piano lessons–
Even though I hated the way my teacher spit through her teeth when she counted the measures.
For giving me an allowance
(When you did not have extra money on hand) and not telling me how I must spend it.
For buying me a shiny blue music box one Christmas.
You found the gift you knew I wanted more than anything else.
For sewing tiny pearl buttons on the back of my wedding dress and making loops to hold them;
You re-designed the entire skirt so that it would fit me.
For coming for a visit after your granddaughter was born–
Traveling 1000 miles on the Greyhound bus and transferring buses in an unfamiliar city at midnight.
For coming, again, when I was recovering from surgery;
You fixed spinach greens, and served them with apple cider vinegar from Aunt Mary’s antique cruet.
For taking me and my family to Virginia;
It was the last time you and Dad traveled in your motor home.
For climbing the stairs to reach my upstairs bedroom;
Never in the time you spent with me did you complain about your painful hip.
For stitching and re-stitching quilts,
Especially the one on which you embroidered a cardinal, a red-winged blackbird and other songbirds.
For continuing to pray and write letters.
When my letters were few, yours kept coming. At age ninety, your penmanship is still beautiful.
Thank you, Mother for expressing your love for me in so many ways.