Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Notes from my mother

My father's date of birth just passed, and it's gotten me thinking about my parents lately. I have a box of letters I saved from the time I moved away from home and the reach of my parents to Alaska until just before mom was diagnosed with cancer, to die a few short months later in the spring of 1977. Something possessed me tonight to go through those letters with intention – to find pieces of her I want to remember –  I am lucky to have her own words to do that with. Here, then is the woman who taught me to stop and smell the flowers. She would smile to know I have not forgotten.

Letters from Grace
(a found poem)

My mother taught me at an early age to be a “lady,’
to keep my dress over my knees.

I was not only the runt of the family –
but the baby by eight years –
which made me relatively an only child.

I understand about the flowers. Don’t ever forget.

My mother told me (one of my favorite stories)
that when I was one,
we were traveling to the drilling area
in the Cumberland mountains
of eastern Kentucky in a wagon
driven by my father. My 12-year-old brother
held me, and when the wagon tipped over
in the rain, he jumped off, landed in the knee-deep mud
but never once did he turn loose of me!

His adoration of me was life-long –
and mine of him.

I love you and want you to be happy
I want you to be somebody.

You won’t believe my plants
I am enjoying them so –
I don’t talk to them
(but I whisper)

You are going to write a book.

Guess where I am?
In the hospital.

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