Red Red Rose by
Oil on Gallery Wrap
My mother began writing poetry when we were toddlers. She collected her poems in a large spiralbound notebook over the years. By the time we were in high school, she had been published in several anthologies and had won some awards for her writings. She did not tell us she wrote poetry, or show us her work, until I was 22 years old. She wrote a poem about me once, and it told of a kitten who grew up and whom she could no longer protect from the world. All of her poems were lost when her home was remodeled over 10 years ago. I wish more than anything I could find them.
Mom will go into hospice care tomorrow morning, after returning from the hospital to the house on the farm that my father built. She's had a difficult year, and her body is growing more frail. In the hospital room today, she asked my older sister Kim to sing for her. Kim, who has a beautiful voice, sang Amazing Grace, referring to the lyrics from her telephone screen. Mom told us there were many choruses to Amazing Grace, that over the years more and more verses were added.
If I do not ever find my mother's lost poetry, I know I'll always have the echo of hearing her read them to me in my memory, just as she read to us from our children's books every day when we were very small. She always put such a gentle inflection on the words, not pretentious and not changing her voice, but letting our imaginations fill in the notes while she rocked my baby sister and turned the pages of the Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy adventures. She would stop at the end of a chapter each day, and we were always left with a cliffhanger. Would Raggedy Ann and Andy find their way out of the candy forest? Would Hobby Horse find his way home?
My mother's voice is weaker now, and every breath is an effort. But she still has her sense of humor and a strength of spirit. She remains willful and determined, finishing her Sunday crosswords and answering trivia questions before we can formulate responses. The only time I have ever seen her truly angry was when she was defending one of her children. I think if I had a choice again, I would live this life again, just for the chance to be her daughter one more time. I am incredibly, immeasurably blessed to have her as my Mom.
Red Roses on the easel!