I remember you, hair silver-gray and pin-curled,
Your skin wrinkled soft,
You used Rose Milk, flower-scented cream
Read the National Enquirer
and fed me stacks of cookies I didn’t need.
looking for elves at the door-shape in the tree out front.
You made me dresses and dipped chicken in egg before
flouring to fry, just to make it crisp-tender and juicy.
You taught my Sunday school class.
You smiled and laughed, not too worried about life anymore.
And when Granddad died, you moved away—
then died right along with him,
as we cried for missing sight of the face that always
looked the same to me in all the pictures, even when you
were very young.
Beautiful, skinny, wild child.
You married young and gave my mother life,
then my aunt.
Widowed with two children by the age of 21,
you kept looking for life, finding a little boy to be your
own along the way...to be the next wild child, unsure of his center.
You smoked, worked in the garden, made me green shorts,
let me beat you at Scrabble.
You kept stacks of pictures on the shelves beneath the china hutch,
waiting for someone to take them out and remember with you.
The stroke slowed you down, gave harshness to life as
you were forced to depend on someone else...
Someone who made you feel the degradation of needing
You liked watching Jeopardy in the evening.
(Or was it his favorite?)
When you died, I didn’t know what to say.
How could I, a child, comfort a mother’s grief for her mother?
Yet your smile lives on in pictures as, movie-star pretty, your grin shows the glint
and spark of your being,
You married young, too, giving life to my sister,
holding tight to a man you couldn’t leave
too young to know better,
until you just couldn’t stay
The drinking and the absence burning heartache
into your soul for 13 years.
You started again, six children to care for
and an absent husband, shipped out
to dangerous places to make our world possible.
You survived all of us—late nights, pregnancies, miscarriages,
partying too young, or hiding in a room looking for
silence and solace in a crowded house.
You worked and sacrificed to give me chances that I didn’t always
see through to the end
And found anger I hadn’t known you possessed when I passed up
the biggest chances and seemed to be going all wrong.
Yet here I am, and you’re still there, waiting with me for the
big moments you know I’m capable of,
Praying for my family with all its troubles
and children who make scary choices...
And a little one of my own, more precious than sunlight,
as he dances across the yard
Chasing butterflies and
flying straight into my arms.