Category Archives: Mother

A Garden Walk with my Mother on her Birthday: FOTD Nov 16, 2019

Two of my favorite people share today as a birthday. One is Forgottenman, who has, I hope, already received his photo tributes via Jibjab, but now I’m thinking about my Mother, who would have been 110 today if she had lived.

Recently I read a letter where she mentioned how when I was a baby I used to pick the heads off flowers and bring them to her. Misguided then, as I still am now in some matters, I have nonetheless learned to leave the flowers where they grow. I took a little walk in my garden today, Mother, imagining you were here with me, seeking out the flowers that are less profuse now than they were a few months ago.

Winter comes to Mexico as well, and although it cuts a less-wide swath, our cold snap seems to have inhibited the hibiscus and even the poinsettias, that should be profuse by now. This is what you would have seen if you had been able to take my walk with me. If you click on the first photo, all of the photos will enlarge and you can go through them as a slide series and also read their captions:

 

 

 

 

For Cee’s Flower of the Day prompt.

Easy Street

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Easy Street

Her wishful dreams did not include the latest Paris fashions.
Pedicures and facials were not numbered in her passions.
Being a wife and mother was what she loved the best.
It’s said that wild horses couldn’t drag her from the nest.

If they held a World Olympics of mothering and wifery,
she’d excel in matches such as ironing and knifery,
and her family members no doubt would all concur
that she’d capture golden medals in the wash and bake and stir.

If you questioned her contentment, you’d hear her lilting laugh
as she dished up cornmeal muffins, buttering each half,
thawed out frozen orange juice, avoiding the debate
as she hurried us through breakfast, afraid that we’d be late.

When the fifteen minute warning bell was rung across the street
in the school bell tower, we beat a fast retreat.
She drained her cup of coffee, then poured another cup,
put fish food in the goldfish bowl and fed the cat and pup.

She filled the sink with wash water and scrubbed and dried and listened
to her morning radio until the glasses glistened.
She’d make the noontime casserole and put it on slow bake.

Sometimes make a cherry pie or a chocolate cake.

She’d sweep the floors and make the beds, polish, dust and mop
until the noon bell sounded and she had to stop.
She’d make a hasty salad of lettuce and tomatoes
and serve what we called dinner— ham and scalloped potatoes,

meatloaf, hamburgers or a ring of cooked baloney,
Spanish rice or navy beans or cheese and macaroni.
Spaghetti, ham and cabbage, goulash or steamed steak—
whatever she could fry or steam or boil or broil or bake.

My dad would come in from the fields and eat and leave again.
With just an hour for lunch, we kids were always in a spin
to get back to the playground and lay claim to the best swings
or be first in line for tether ball or other schoolyard things.

Then she lay down on the sofa with our little terrier curled
right up close beside her as she learned about the world
through books, papers and magazines, reading there until
the let-out bell was sounded and kids bolted down the hill.

Time enough for supper preparations to be started
as one by one she was rejoined by her dearly departed.

Tales of school spats, teachers’ stories, what our best friends said.
From four to five, our childish raves and rants swirled through her head.

Then my father home again to wash up at the sink,
his mouth up to the faucet for a little drink.
“Use a glass, Ben,” She would say. A rather tardy rule
as he sank into his chair with feet up on a stool.

Supper at six, then radio, or later the T.V.
Dad in his favorite rocking chair, teasing my sis and me.
Mother in her usual place, prone on the divan 
reading “Redbook,” eating stove-popped popcorn from the pan.

Did she wish she’d gone to college and had a different life
than just being a mother and a rancher’s wife?
She would laugh and say to us, seemingly undaunted,
“Girls, basically I’m lazy. I’ve had just the life I wanted!”

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Word prompts for today are horses, wishful, concur, laugh and nest.

 

Maternal Support

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Because I finally found this photo of my mother that I’ve been looking for for years, I had to put it on my blog.  I just love how young she looks, wonder what prompted her lifting up my stroller, love the depiction of the new neighborhood we’d just moved into that lacked even graveled streets, let alone paved ones.  I’m wondering if she lifted me up to show off her spectator pumps?  Pretty fancy for a mother in a housedress holding her chunky baby aloft complete with heavy metal stroller. This is my all-time favorite photo of my mother and me so I just had to share it. That’s the Masonic Temple in the background, by the way. My mother was 37 years old. I must have been between 10 months and a year old.

In case you are curious, here are a number of poems, essays and stories I’ve written about my mother over the years. Bet you can’t read the whole bunch!! But if you want to read just one, let it be the first one, which gives the most complete view of her.

https://judydykstrabrown.com/2014/04/25/napowrimo-day-25-she/

https://judydykstrabrown.com/2017/04/12/family-secrets/

https://judydykstrabrown.com/2017/03/19/the-emperor-of-chocola/

https://judydykstrabrown.com/2017/03/02/i-imagine-dverse-poets-prose-poetry/

https://judydykstrabrown.com/2015/12/22/believe/

https://judydykstrabrown.com/2015/09/20/generational-drift/

https://judydykstrabrown.com/2015/01/30/china-bulldog/

https://judydykstrabrown.com/2014/10/17/mommy-talk/

https://judydykstrabrown.com/2018/04/24/elegy-for-eunice/

 

The Emperor of Chocolate

                                                                             image from internet

The Emperor of Chocolate

I am the emperor of chocolate. I conquer every bar.
I can detect its presence in wrappings or in jar.
When there’s no chocolate to be found, I simply can’t abide it.
I can find it anywhere—wherever you might hide it.
My tendency toward chocolate is a tale I hate to tell;
but I cannot help it, for it’s congenital.
My mother abused substances—namely, Russell Stover.
She could not close the box lid until eating them was over.

She couldn’t resist chocolates, though she was not a glutton
when it came to other foods like hamburgers or mutton.
She received a box of chocolates on every holiday—
on her birthday and for Christmas, and for sure on Mother’s Day.
When it came to appreciation, my mother never failed them,
for when it came to chocolates, she always just inhaled them.
One time my dad decided that he would have some fun.
He bought my mom some chocolates to dole out one-by-one.

He hid them underneath the cushion of a chair
to give her one piece daily, but she knew that they were there.
She ate the whole box in two days. It really was disgraceful.
Every time I saw her, it seemed she had a face full.
Only with my father did she manage to save face,
For she bought chocolate-covered cherries and put one in the place
of every chocolate she stole. My father never knew.
She was not tempted by the cherries—a taste she could eschew.

My father always thought he’d pulled one over on my mother,
although I’ve always known that the true jokester was another.
When the box was only cherries, and he offered them to her,
she’d say, “I’ll save it for later,” or sometimes she’d  demur.
To resist chocolate cherries, she was fully able,
and I was fully loyal to preserving mother’s fable.
That’s how my addiction was learned at Mother’s knee,
because the chocolate-covered cherries? She gave them all to me.

 

Here is a link to my favorite photo of my mother, plus other stories and poems about here: https://judydykstrabrown.com/2018/08/01/parental-support/

The prompt today is conquer.

“I Imagine” dVerse Poets, Prose Poetry

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I Imagine

I imagine one more holiday.
My mother sits at a large picture window
looking out over a broad beach,
watching dogs fetching sticks.
Then, because she cannot help it,
she takes her shoes off to walk through packed sand.
I imagine her sighting the offshore rock
where puffins nest.
I imagine footprints—hers and mine
and the paw prints of the dog—
someone else’s—
who joins us for the price of a stick thrown
over and over into the waves.

My mother could count her trips to the beach
on one hand,
and most of those times have been with me.
Once, in Wales, we sat on the long sea wall
under Dylan Thomas’s boathouse.
A cat walked the wall out to us,
precise and careful
to get as few grains of sand as possible
between its paw pads.
As it preened and arched under my mother’s smooth hand,
its black hairs caught in her diamond rings.

The other time we went to the beach
was in Australia.
We stayed out all afternoon,
throwing and throwing a stick,
a big black dog running first after,
then in front of it,
my dad sleeping in the car parked at the roadside,
my mother and I playing together
as we had never played before.

My mother and the ocean
have always been so far divided,
with me as the guide rope in between.
I imagine reeling them both in toward each other
and one more trip.
My mother, me, a dog or cat.
Wind to bundle up for and to walk against.
Wind to turn our ears away from.
Sand to pour out of our pockets
to form a small  volcano
with a crab’s claw at the top.

So that years from now,
when I empty one pocket,
I will find sails from by-the-wind sailors
and shark egg casings,
fragile black kelp berries
and polished stones.
The bones of my mother. The dreams of me.

From the other pocket, empty,
I will pull all the reunions I never fought hard enough for—
regrets over trips to the sea we never made.
And I’ll imagine taking me to oceans.
Walks. Treasures hidden in and hiding sand.
Someone walking with me—
someone else’s child, perhaps,
and a dog chasing sticks.

Note: I never took that last trip to the ocean with my mother, but I think of her every year when I come to stay at the beach on my own, and this year in particular, every time I throw the stick for Morrie and every time children come to play with us. Here is a link to my favorite photo of my mother, plus other stories and poems about her.

Written for the dVerse Poets prompt, Prose Poetry.To play along, go HERE.

Mum’s the Word

If you’ve read my posts on Africa, you already know more about me than my mom ever did.  Once, years later, when I asked my mom if she would like to know the full story about why I stayed in Africa instead of traveling with my sister when she came to visit me and then coming back to the U.S. with her, my mother said, “I never told my mother anything that would make her feel bad.”  Case closed.

There was a whole part of my life my mother never knew about by choice.  She never knew that I was nearly killed twice while I was there, or that I initially stayed because I was in love with an Ethiopian man.  My sister knew all because she was there when the shooting took place, and I had told her about the kidnapping, but she never told my mother.  In many other ways, I am very like my mother, but there are some other genes surging through me, because I always want to know everything and I will almost always ask for the “rest” of the story.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Dear Mom.”: Write a letter to your mom.  Tell her something you’ve always wanted to say, but haven’t been able to.