Friday, July 26, 2013

Poetry Friday: I Will Remember You

After a long illness, my mother passed away on June 10.  I know I should have been expecting it, but she's had so many close calls and recovered that this really caught all of us off-guard. In the minutes after she took her last breath, I sat on the bed next her holding her hand.  It felt so surreal. The clock kept ticking, nurses continued collecting breakfast trays from other patients, and someone was talking loudly in the hallway outside Mom's room. Nothing seemed to have changed. Other than the nurse who pronounced her, no one else seemed to notice. Mom's heart had stopped beating, but the world kept going. I don't know what I was expecting, but when someone dies, it seems like everything should stop, at least for a moment.

I know Mom had some regrets, but her life mattered. She was the one person who knew me even before I was born. She was there through the good times and the bad. The world will not be the same without her. 

I still think about my mother every day and wish I'd done more to show her how much she meant to me. Now, all I can do is try to honor her by keeping her memory alive and telling others about her.  There are many things I want to remember about her and share with my grandchildren who are too young to have known her.  I wrote this poem the night after she died, and with my two wonderful sons by my side, I  read it at her memorial.  I hope she was listening.

“To live in the hearts we leave behind, is not to die.”
                                    Thomas Campbell

Dear Mom,

I will remember you—
every time I see a pink carnation,
hear someone mention
“Roses, Roses Sachet”
or smell the scent of lavender.

I will remember —
you always made sure
we had clean clothes,
dinner on the table,
and presents under the tree

Money was tight
but somehow you managed
to buy our school pictures,
take us to carnivals and out
for snowballs on hot summer nights

I will remember you—
sitting at the kitchen table
hemming a pair of pants
working on a paint-by-number,
or rolling out dough for pumpkin pies

You loved
going on long car rides,
chocolate ice cream,
having your hair done
and playing Bingo

I’ll remember your smile,
how you loved to dance,
your dream to go to Africa,
your love of animals and angels
and stories of your childhood.

You filled my life with music,
song lyrics that taught me,
 “You Can’t Hurry Love”
“Dream, Dream, Dream,” and
“The Circle Will Be Unbroken”

You were afraid of dying
but you need not have worried
because you will live forever—
in the hearts of all who love you.

Until I see you again, Mom
I will remember you.

Yesterday, this poem arrived in my inbox. It reminded me of that day in June, and how "normal" the world continued to be.

The Day I Die

by Krista Lukas

will be a Saturday or a Tuesday, maybe.
A day with a weather forecast,
a high and a low. There will be news:
a scandal, a disaster, some good
deed. The mail will come. People
will walk their dogs.

You can read the rest of the poem here.
.  A special thank you to Sherry for hosting Poetry Friday today!


  1. Dear Linda, I am so sorry to hear about your mom. I have often said that the mother-daughter relationship is perhaps the most complex of them all... and I do think that continues after death. What a lovely tribute to her this poem is. Thank you for sharing. Keeping you in my thoughts as you continue your journey through grief. xo

  2. Thank you for your kind words, Irene. Losing a parent (or any loved one) is so hard, but I'm trying to hold on to the good memories of our time together.

  3. I'm sorry to hear about your mother's passing. My mom's been gone quite a long time now & I still do think of her every day. As you've said, there are so many memories to pass along to the next generation. Your poem's line about long car rides touched me. In those last years, I often took my mother on a ride through the countryside, especially on summer evenings when the sky would turn lavender, and we had such good talks! Your words about life stopping & going on reminded me of Auden's Funeral Blues ( It expressed at least some of what you're sharing. Best wishes to you and yours.

    1. Linda- thanks for sharing the Auden poem. I just read it, and liked it a lot. Thanks so much for your kind wishes, it helps to know others care.

  4. So sorry for your loss, Linda -- your mom obviously was very dear to your heart. Thank you for sharing this poem with us.

  5. I totally understand. My mom died at home with me by her side, and I did feel that the world stood still for just a little bit that quiet early Sunday morning. I wrote about my mother today, too. It is her birthday today! We forever miss our moms, it seems. There's always something we'd like to tell her about or show her!

    1. Donna- Thanks for sharing your experience with me. I'm sure you miss your mom even more on holidays. I read your poem about the birthday day. Your mom is smiling today remembering that special cake!

  6. Dear Linda, Please accept my condolences on the passing of your mom. She was lucky to have such a loving daughter, and your poem is beautiful. I say a sign today that said, "The little things are big," and your poem makes me think of this. Your post has me thinking about this poem by W.S. Merwin - xo, a.

    1. Amy-You are so sweet. Thank you for your kindness. I agree that it's the little things that end up being the biggest and most meaningful. Thank you for sharing the Merwin poem. I'll be sure to read it later tonight.

  7. My mom died in June too--seven years ago. I understand the shock you're feeling. I too processed Mom's death by writing about it. I love how your poem names specific things about your mom. It takes a lot of 'starch' to read something like that at the memorial service, doesn't it? All the best to you in the coming days.

    1. Violet-I'm sorry for your loss. As you know, writing about it really does help. I wrote the poem quickly through lots of tears. When it was time to read it at the memorial, I almost didn't. I was so nervous that it wasn't good enough to show how much she meant to me. I don't think I could have done it without my two sons standing beside me. Thank you for sharing your story. Best wishes to you too.

  8. Hi, Linda. Thank you for posting this. I can see this was the week for difficult topics in poetry. It's so hard to let go. Today, I attended a funeral. A good friend's mother died unexpectedly last week. Sad as they are, I always enjoy hearing the details of a person's life during these gatherings. Loved your mother's penchant for Bingo and great music. Sending you a big hug.

  9. Laura- yes, it is so hard to let go, but it's something we all must learn to do. Thank you for your for your kind words.

  10. Condolences, but also thank you...for reminding me to savor every moment I have left with my mom. The contrast between your poem (holding tight to concrete memories) and the one from Writer's Almanac (at the moment of death, nothing changes, the clock ticks on) exemplifies the way life works.

    1. Mary Lee, you're so right. Life goes by so quickly, all we have to hold on to are the memories. Thanks you for your kindness.

  11. My heartfelt sympathies to you and yours.

    1. Thank you, Charles. I appreciate your thoughtfulness.