Mother, I Remember

Carol A. Hand

Dear Mother, I remember as a child
The trips to New York City and to the Jersey shore
Camping in Cape Cod, and the Adirondack Mountains
Trips on boats, splashing in the ocean
Picking berries in the woods and laughing
Only realizing later that we were spared by
The copperheads that called the woods home

I remember the many times you cried
Because you couldn’t bear the loneliness and pain
From an abusive husband who knew the way to hurt you most deeply
Was to hurt the daughter you loved
But we were both survivors, you and I

I remember watching you when I was a teen as you cared for elders
And dealt with cranky staff with such kindness and diplomacy
A gifted healer and peacemaker despite the abuse you couldn’t stop
I remember that I understood from a very early age
That you didn’t see your beauty or your worth
I didn’t know how to help you or myself for awhile

mom and me off to college

Photo: My Mother Sending off to College after Spring Break – 1966

I remember there were many years when we didn’t often meet
You had your work to keep you busy and I had mine
Yet you always found time to send letters and cards
From Pennsylvania, Arizona, New Mexico, and Wisconsin
When you returned to the place where you were born
To use your skills to get federal funding for a health center
On the Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe reservation

I remember how frightened you were to testify before Congress
How proud you were of this accomplishment
And how disappointed when the center was named after the tribal leader
Whose bitterness almost sabotaged the project

I remember when I was a little older
Driving this road to your northwoods home
So many times, from so many directions
In too many different cars to recall
Only this time, the drive is different
I’m crying so hard it’s hard to see the road ahead
I’m not coming with my family to celebrate a holiday,
Or taking time away from work to answer your plea for help
Because you’ve grown fearful and weary of Father’s abuse
I’m not coming to help you move to the elder apartment complex
Or the assisted care facility because you can no longer remember
How to care for yourself, or even who I am
This time I’m coming to bid you farewell one last time

I will always remember the love and the laughter,
The tears and the pain as I hold your hand,
Gently caress your cheek and smooth your silvered hair
As you lay in your hospital bed, struggling to breathe, dying.
I kiss your cheek and whisper.
I love you, Mother. I always have. I know I will miss you
But it’s okay to let go now Mother and go home.
You’ll finally be free from suffering.”

It’s been almost five years since your death
But I still remember…

Acknowledgements:

The inspiration for this poem comes from a number of different sources:

  • Comments from my readers about my most recent posts (speak in a personal voice in present tense),
  • The foggy drizzly morning, and
  • A poignant post by another Writing 101 colleague, Rosema Writes: A Reading Writer. Her post unlocked memories and made me realize that I have been thinking about my mother’s death as the five-year anniversary approaches (October 10, 2010). I also realized that I haven’t had the chance to unlock deeper memories and cry until today.

Thank you for inspiring me, Rosema Writes.

Copyright Notice: © Carol A. Hand and carolahand, 2013-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Carol A. Hand and carolahand with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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20 thoughts on “Mother, I Remember”

  1. Oh, my goodness you have me crying here! What a beautiful touching tribute to your mothers. I wish all the best on your journey of unlocking memories that are painful but tears will help wash away some pain. Many cyber HUGS to you, my dear!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. A deservingly beautiful paean, Carol, on your mother’s anniversary. Your words and pic here speak volumes for the maternal bond and memories thereof. You seem to have imbibed your mother’s many qualities, specially her endurance and compassion…god bless.

    Liked by 1 person

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