Sunday, May 12, 2024

A Tribute to My Mother

 Happy Mother's Day

to all mothers

and a loving tribute to mine...

Frances Longo Walsh - 1915-1966


In loving memory of Frances Longo Walsh (1915-1966)


I recall the way

my mother’s whole body jiggled when she laughed,

her sweet, shy smile,

that she understood Italian, but never spoke it,

the utter simplicity of her desires...

never asking for or receiving much

and not once complaining.

She had all she wanted, a home and family.


I remember the helpmeet working side by side

with our father, clearing the land

and building our stucco home.


My mind’s eye sees her plucking

chicken feathers in the backyard,

walking uphill home from the bus stop,

huffing, puffing;

scratching her itching back

against the bedroom door frame;

camping, just to please us children,

though it was more work than fun for her.


Recall, as if it were yesterday,

the flowery apron over her housedress

with its chain of safety pins

and her elastic band bracelets,

and Mother, standing at the stove, stirring

the bubbling red sauce in the big enamel pot.


Little Mommy, four-foot-ten and overweight—

She served herself the skimpiest portions,

never ate dessert, but occasionally gave in

to one indulgence: a crusty Italian bastone

from Minardi’s, sliced and spread with a pat of butter.


Hindsight reveals her quick on her feet

in the yard goods department at Quackenbush’s,

where customers remembered her

for smiles as quick as her feet.


When she arrived home, she changed her clothes

and aired out one of her two work dresses

on the clothesline off the back porch.


In retrospect, I see her

rolling her dark hair back into two neat curls

above her forehead,

applying red lipstick to her upper lip,

bringing both lips together to transfer color

to the lower, then, blotting.


Never attended high school, but

she could add columns of numbers

rapidly, in her head.

She read the newspaper nightly,

and completed the crossword puzzle.


My memory flashes to her relaxing evenings

in our parlor, in the old tufted chair,

watching Alfred Hitchcock or Lucy or

Barbara Stanwick in, “The Big Valley”.

She never missed the easy crooning of Perry Como.

He was her favorite. (He’d been a barber, like her father.)


I remember it pleased our father

that she always waited up for him

till he arrived home after working

the night shift at Wright’s.


Yes, I still see clearly, her dear kerchiefed head,

which Gramma remarked, made her look

like a peasant in a babushka.


Remember trying to convince her to hike her hemlines,

wear “Kiss Me Pink” lipstick, update her hair style,

learn to drive.


Flashback to hear her inviting my date

to come in for a cup of tea at our kitchen table

when he brought me home.


Vividly, I recollect the day

she was curled up tight on the couch.

She didn’t want me to call the ambulance,

though her hernia was strangling,

didn’t want to spoil plans

my sister and I had with our friends.

I disobeyed. The doctors operated just in time,

before gangrene set in.


My mind’s eye still sees tears in her eyes

when she came to my wedding

without my father.


And I remember her joy

to learn both daughters were pregnant, however,


she died before her grandchildren were born.


Oh! How much her grandchildren have missed

for never having known her—


which is one of the reasons

I’ve written this poem

Maude Carolan

*The above poem was originally published in the Paterson Literary Review.

Would you like to read more poems?

"Behold the Lamb...poetically"

by Maude Carolan Pych

is a book of poems

about the Birth, Death & Resurrection of Jesus,

written over a period of 30 years.

It is available online

at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, CBD, etc.

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