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Mother’s Day and More

May 4, 2016

 

Mother’s Day and More

 

NOTE: For this “Mother’s Day” post, I am sharing something old and something new. First, the new (spring/summer) issue of the online literary publication Magnets and Ladders, edited by Mary-Jo Lord, is now available free of charge at:

 

http://www.magnetsandladders.org

 

By reading this publication of the international organization Behind Our Eyes (which is celebrating its tenth anniversary), you will find that a poem which I wrote with D. P. Lyons (a Maine writer whose bio you may read at the provided link) won the first prize in the poetry contest of Magnets and Ladders. Collaborating with Deon was a unique, rewarding, and fun experience. For our poem “Partners in Rhyme,” over a period of ten days during last August, I penned the odd-numbered quatrains; and Deon wrote the even-numbered stanzas. We were delighted that our collaborative effort in rhyme received the recognition of first prize.

 

After clicking on the above link, you will arrive at the Magnets and Ladders page; then, click on the first link which takes you to the spring/summer 2016 issue. In Part III (“The Writers’ Climb”) of the issue, you will find “Partners in Rhyme,” as well as two other pieces which I wrote. The new issue includes short stories, essays, memoirs, poems, and one book excerpt by a variety of talented writers.

 

Now, for the something old, I am sharing a poem which I wrote on May 4, 2013, to honor my mother. I previously posted the following poem on Wordwalk on 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.”

 

 

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,

I wish you a wonderful Sunday!

 

Many blessings,

Alice

 

May 4, 2016, Wednesday

 

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11 Comments
  1. Alice. Words can’t properly describe how much I appreciate this post. You have brought my own emotions for my mother to the surface this morning. Hats held high my dear.
    Thanks also for your kind words regarding our collaborated writing of last year. It was one of the highlights of my writing journey, and I thank you for the opportunity to join in with your scripted talents.
    Blessings to you, my partner in rhyme. dp

    • Deon–Thanks always for your commenting! You mentioned “writing journey,” and this phrase seems to be reaching out for some accompanying poetic lines. Could this phrase be the seed we need for another collaborative, poetic effort?

      Hoping you and your family enjoy a most “Happy Mother’s Day”–Alice

  2. Sue McKendry permalink

    Alice–Thanks for reposting this beautiful tribute to your mother. As one who cared for our mother who also succumbed to dementia but still had many lucid and loving moments, I’m so aware of the heartbreak we experience seeing a so “with it” person slipping away. Also thanks for the link to Magnets and Ladders — looks like some very good reading is ahead, and it was nice to read about your “partner in rhyme” and read your fun-filled collaboration.–Sue

    • Sue–Thank you for taking the time to comment on this post. Happy reading in MAGNETS AND LADDERS!

      Take good care–Alice

  3. Fran Rayce permalink

    Alice, your poetic collaboration was delightful! What a fun variation.
    Your tribute to your mother again touched my heart. How fortunate you were to have each other. The blessing of special parents stays with us always.

    • Fran–Thanks for taking the time to read “Partners in Rhyme” on MAGNETS AND LADDERS.

      Enjoy a sunny and very Happy Mother’s Day with your family! More soon–Alice

  4. Hi Alice,

    I love this piece. I remember it from before. Thanks for the Magnets and Ladders mention.

    Mary-Jo

    • Mary-Jo–Thanks for reading this long poem again and for commenting. I am glad to send a few more readers (or more) to MAGNETS AND LADDERS.

      Enjoy your Mother’s Day! Take care–Alice

  5. Alice, you and Deon created a delightful poem together! I was curious about the process of writing “Partners in Rhyme” and look forward to reading future collaborative works from two talented poets.

    The touching poem about our dear mother brings tears to my eyes because you so beautifully captured the essence of her soul. I missed Mother yesterday, and more days than I can count.

    With love and thanks,
    Mary

  6. Carole permalink

    Heartfelt hugs for sharing the bittersweet seasons of memories. You’ve touched my heart again.

    • Carole–Thanks for your dear comment on my Mother’s Day poem. “Bittersweet” does become the word so often to describe a long life.

      Have a good Sunday–Alice

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