Still My Momma's Baby (circa 1990's)
I have written, often, here about my childhood, about my crazy dysfunctional family and about how my passion for the written word has kept me whole.  Recently, as I responded to a comment made during an interview I gave for the blog, Writers in Business, I was flooded by memories.

Like a movie camera being clicked into action, I began seeing myself at the kitchen table with Momma reading poetry and then, curled up on the couch with her as she recited from memory, The Charge of the Light Brigade.  I could practically hear her repeating the words from Frost's Mending Wall. The last image that came to mind was opening the letter I received from the Horn Book Club for Children telling me that, while the submission I sent wasn't accepted for publication, they wanted to congratulate me being a poet and writer. Momma didn't say so, but I think she was very proud.

Me, 1960 - Writer and Poet!
It is possible that we all have poems for remembering a loved one.  I know that every time I go to the bookshelf in our hallway that is filled only with tomes of poetry, I can't help but remember my mother.  What a gift she gave me when first she sat reciting poems!  

Later in life, I learned that she recited the poems to keep herself from crying over the difficulties of raising a family in poverty, addiction and disease.  Interestingly, whenever I have felt stressed, more often than not, I reach for a book of poems to quell my fears, heal my wounded spirit and enlighten the path ahead.

Momma had many favorite poems, but one that spoke to her, exemplifying her philosophy of life, was:

My candle burns at both ends
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends -
It gives a lovely light.


by Edna St. Vincent Millay, "A Few Figs from Thistles", 1920

Momma's light lasted a great deal longer than anyone expected, including the doctors.  Diagnosed in the early 60's with Myasthenia Gravis, a neuro-muscular disease, she was given six months to live by doctors who simply had no idea of my mother's tenacity.

Her light flickered often, but somehow, the poetry of her days kept  her light burning. Two years ago, she left this existence having wrestled with life for 80 years.   

Remembering Momma, remembering the poetry we shared, and remembering our times together is magic.  In closing, let me share another of her favorite poems about life, also by Edna St. Vincent Millay.

Safe upon the solid rock the ugly houses stand:
Come and see my shining palace built upon the sand! 

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Touchingly beautiful. Thank you for sharing such a lovely rememberance of your mother.
Linda said…
Thank you, dear OWT, I appreciate your kind thoughts.
Margo Dill said…
Yes, what beautiful memories!
Linda said…
Thanks, Margo! Hope all is well with you.
Jen said…
This was beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing your mother with us.
Linda said…
Thanks, Jen. My Momma was an amazing lady. I miss her greatly.

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