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A Mother for All Seasons

May 7, 2013

A Mother for All Seasons (1914-2001)

by Alice Jane-Marie Massa

Prelude

What happens to Mother’s Day
when I can only visit Mother at the grave?
Since there is no category in Hallmark
labeled “Heavenly Mother,”
I call Sawyers Flowers;
and Chris will place the bouquet for you
because I am too many miles away.
Not a Hallmark, but a credit card
is the only interaction—
not much satisfaction,
just a sigh and sign of cherished memories.

Part I: Season of Liberation

On my piano rests a magenta vase
on which are gold letters that spell “Mother.”
In 1933, when few young women traveled alone,
you and Anna went to the Chicago World’s Fair;
and you bought the vase for your mother.
Now, I keep it as a reminder of you—unusual you
who also went to Niagara Falls with your friend—
liberated women before the word became popular.

Part II: Season of Baking

At the Italian bakery and grocery store where you grew up,
you—the youngest of six children—were given
the bookkeeping duties which became one of your loves—
as the season of taxes was your favorite season of all.
Unlike most women of your generation,
when you married—late—
you did not know how to cook nor bake;
so, Dad taught you how.
By the time I was your younger daughter,
I thought all mothers made perfect lemon meringue and chocolate pies,
tasty cherry and Betty Crocker-worthy pumpkin pies.
Eventually, I learned that only Mrs. Josephine Perona
and you (my mother) made these unawarded blue-ribbon pies.
You were famous for your pineapple square pastries, date bars, and polenta dolce—
always part of the holiday baking—
always part of the waking
of my scented memories.

Part III: Season of Post Office

Always busy with working at your post office,
helping at the store and restaurant,
participating in your clubs and organizations—
thank God—you did not have time nor the inclination
to be a hovering “Helicopter Mom”
so that one little, dark-eyed girl
who gradually and quietly became blind
could grow up to be an independent woman—
as liberated as you—
you who did not hover, but, instead,
kept writing and writing letters to eye specialists
across the United States.
You carried so silently the task
of rearing a special child:
all the while, you just kept writing.
Somewhere in a file folder,
I have all those reports and letters.
In the little drawer of my lighthouse music box,
I have your “Postmaster of the Year” pin;
and I remember so clearly
the time you hid me in the pile of mail bags
at your beloved Blanford Post Office.

Part IV: Season of Snow

On the back of my raspberry rocker
is a pink crocheted shell afghan
(one of many) you made for me
when you retired.
I can wrap myself in that afghan
and bring forth photos in my mind
of you (in royal blue)
dancing with my dad at Perona’s Hall,
of you (in a yellow linen suit)
smiling broadly at my graduation,
of you (in the mint green, long dress)
smiling radiantly at your older daughter’s wedding.
Then, shockingly, I am haunted by a video
that runs too often in my mind—
a film of you—
touched by the unkind hand of Alzheimer’s—
wandering in circles in the snow—
in your night gown, robe, and slippers—
aimlessly trying to find help
for my extraordinary Dad who had a cerebral hemorrhage.
Then, your different and sometimes difficult life
went on for three years in the other state of Colorado
where your older daughter graciously cared for you.
As you slipped away,
you forgot this and that,
here and there;
yet You forever remembered your patriotism
and the words and tunes of old songs.
The last time I saw you,
my big and boisterous yellow lab Heather
ever so gently lay her head
beside you on your final bed.
At your funeral,
your musically-gifted grandson Eric
played on his violin, once again,
so beautifully for you
the “Ashokan Farewell.”

(written May 4, 2013, Saturday evening)

Happy Mother’s Day!
Whether you spend this special day honoring and remembering your mother,
celebrating with your mother,
or enjoying your graces of motherhood,
we wish you a wonderful Sunday!

Many blessings,
Alice and Zoe

May 7, 2013, Tuesday

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7 Comments
  1. A wonderful tribute for a wonderful lady. You have painted fascinating word pictures of your mother, poignant and loving, capturing her spirit, and showcasing her love and dedication to her family.

  2. What a beautiful tribute, Alice! She is smiling down on you. 🙂

  3. Hi Alice, I like the way you told your mother’s whole life story in one poem. I hope you and Zoe have a good Mother’s Day.

  4. Thank you, Alice, for writing this touching tribute to our dear mother. Remembering the seasons that you so beautifully describe brought tears to my eyes. We were indeed blessed to be her daughters!
    Love, Mary

    • To my OLDER sister–Thanks for your comments. Of course, I wrote the poem with tears. I wonder if either of us could read aloud the poem. Love from the Postmaster’s second (and YOUNGER) daughter

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