Saturday, May 11, 2013

Mother's Day, Old and New

My Mom, always a beauty

This week, Poets United's Poetry Pantry is all about Mothers - a celebration of the nurturing spirit of women. I plan to pour myself a coffee, Sunday morning, and peruse all of the offerings. Do check out the Pantry, as there will be some wonderful reading in there Sunday and Monday.

Some of us have children of our own, some of us are loving aunts, and many of us love whatever children the universe sends our way. I raised four children as a single mom, one of the hardest paths in the world, but I wouldn't trade the journey for anything. Then came the grandchildren, four more amazing individuals , here because their mom is here, and because I was here, and because my mother was here.

For a dozen years, I have provided respite care for foster parents, and have loved a stream of little voyagers from rocky paths, many of them with special needs, all of them from fractured families, having already experienced loss and heartache in their short lives. They come to me for peace and warmth and laughter, a time out of time.  I have a sunny little four year old with me this weekend, while his foster mom takes a break. 

I am reflecting much on the nurturing character of women, so hard-wired are we to care for those around us. I wrote a poem for my mom when I was 16 and read it aloud at a school event where she was sitting in the audience. I decided to post that one today. I wrote another poem after her death, and will post that as well - full circle, as these cycles go. My mom and my grandma have been gone for a long time, but they are both strongly within me, and within my daughters and my daughter's daughter: one long line of strong, original, cackling women.

Happy Mother's Day

age 16, 1962

A feeling unexpressed in words
lives in my heart for Mother;
a thought too deep, a turning home
unfelt for any other.

Since time began our two lives ran
parallel paths together;
the years have bound our hearts around
unchanged by any weather.

Protection, shelter, in my need -
a refuge when I sought it.
I picked a flower one baby hour:
love blossomed where I brought it.

A song sang through my infancy:
her voice soothed all my fears,
and silent sympathy washed away
the ache of hidden tears.

I failed when I met life. I tried again.
Mother believed in me.
Too much, she believed, and I tried to be true
to Mother's deep faith in me.

I was launched into life with a dream and a prayer,
adrift on a stormy sea:
but e'er the ebb tide I'll have gained the far side-
her love having sheltered me.

Two weeks after my mother's death in 1994, I was driving towards her home in Port Alberni, just on the outskirts, entering the town. I was thinking of my mom when, in slow motion, as if time had stopped and we were caught fast in that stationary moment, an owl flew slowly across my windshield, so closely I could see every feather, defined. As she flew, she turned her head and our eyes locked together as she slowly flew into the forest. I then remembered I was driving the car,  time started up again, and I drove on. I can see that owl still, remember how everything stood still for those few moments.

I wrote this poem several years later.

The Owl Is the Doorway Into the Unknown

[The title quote is from The Golden Cauldron by Nicki Scully]
September 13, 1999

I sit beside my mother's bed
as she lies dying.
Our eyes meet: all the words we cannot say,
all the missed connections,
in this lifetime,
it has always been
this way.

I release the ways
we never got it right;
forgive, no need to hold the anger tight.
Just "I love you"
and her spirit
flies away,
out of the room
into the starry night.

Weeks later,
I am driving
towards her home
when, in slow motion,
across my windshield
a gray owl,
feathered being,
infinitely wise,
as she passes looking
deep into
my eyes.

Time is suspended
on this point
of traveling.
Somehow I feel
a message has been
and, somewhere in my spirit sore,
I know all is understood
and I believe.

Owl, swooping sideways
into the forest green,
bird between two worlds,
all that we know and the unseen,
harbinger of change,
of mysteries beautiful and strange,
as our eyes meet
I know an Oracle
has been.

Wise watcher in the night,
friend of the moon,
fly after she
who left my world
too soon.

Fly, messenger
of my belated transformation;
and give my love to my mother
in the Spirit Nation.


  1. I nearly didn't respond to this! I find Mother's Day a heartache, a time I wish would pass! My mother was lost in her own world! I never knew any mother-daughter feelings! Mum had her rules and her appearances and I had to abide by them! That was all! She never knew me! But still, I love your experience! I can only dream!

  2. She is a beauty... and I see a bit of you in her. Beauties, both. Your writing is a wonderful tribute, Sherry. She must be pleased and proud.

  3. I can hardly believe that first poem was written by a 13 year old! How sensitive and powerfully imaged even then! And the second is a fine record, and greeting--wise watcher in the night is still with you. What a powerful line of women, indeed.

  4. The first poem made me shed a tear it was so beautiful, your mother was and probably is proud of you. Both poems are amazingly well written.

  5. This post has filled me up on Mother's Day. Your gift is the ability to write from a loving heart and remind us that what we have lost is always with us in human warmth and kindness.

  6. heart touching. mother'ers love stays forever.....

  7. Beautiful words. I have good memories of my own mother - who passed away when I was 12 - memories I treasure.

  8. wow: both poems are moving, specific and beautiful. Memories shared and held, and I'm sure, they'll trigger much in every reader.

  9. You both smile with your eyes..such fine words used in your writing

  10. A woman of style and strength, judging by your words and her photograph, as is her daughter:
    We, on line, come to you for warmth and laughter, a place out of place.
    Enjoy the day, Sherry.

  11. Love these two poems, Sherry. You're a wonderful writer whose ability to take a reader to that place where in spite of everything, love is found.

  12. Two beautiful poems, Sherry. In the first one I feel your mother's faith in you, which has now been transferred to your own faith in yourself...a wonderful gift. And the second poem, yes letting go of misunderstandings and angers when one's mother passes away is a good thing. And I love the story of the visit of the owl and its message which has stuck with you over the years! (As well as the message it took back to the world beyond.)

  13. Happy Mother's day my friend. A beautiful tribute indeed.

  14. This is a most beautiful post. You made me cry. You were blessed, as was your mom. Peace.

  15. they are both beautiful poems full of emotion, amazing

  16. I shed poignant tears over this! Happy Mother's Day Mom!

  17. smiles...lovely verse sherry...first, thank you for the respit care that you important to the kids and the families...having worked with plenty of fosters, i know the value...that the first was written at 16, wow...i was still learning to appreciate my parents a bit then...wonderful verse...what a moment with that owl too....when my wifes mother passed it was of the harder times in my own life...

  18. Sherry,

    It is hard to write anything which can add to the palpable love you have written for your mother, here in your words. Your love to the very end, and beyond it.
    She lives on in you and your ways Sherry. You share and give so much of yourself to so many, in practical ways of caring and in the wider world ways of sharing your words:)
    I think that from now on, whenever I see an owl, I will think of you:)

    Happy Mother's Day,

  19. She seems a wonderful woman! What lovely tributes to her Sherry, and what a cool experience with that owl!

  20. I love how you name a date and time for us in the beginning of the poem. You use a lot of interior rhyme and great images. A great poem from a teen to her mom.

  21. Both great, great poems. The owl messenger gave me a shudder . . . beautiful and powerful at once!

  22. Sherry, this was actually three posts in one. THe poem you wrote to your mom all those years ago broke me up. Then, the poem about your mother's death... really spiritual, beautiful, the owl and the Spirit Nation. I feel close to my mom, even 21 years after her death. When I need her, she's "thisclose," you know?

    But the third post was your intro. Thank you for taking so much time giving foster parents respite. I'm sure it's an enjoyable experience all around... I had an "auntie" whose house I'd visit when my mom had errands or school board meetings during the day, Aunt Leona, and I still remember those times as special, because Leona treated me so well.

    Loved it all. Amy

  23. Amazing Sherry! i can hear my heart beat loud and clear..such sensitive and delicate verses for your mother...she must have been proud of you then listening to you reading out that piece and should have been overlooking you penning the other one too! You are truely blessed:)

  24. Beautiful poems! I love the connectedness through the owl with your mother. Wise women find ways to communicate no matter what the difficulties!Humming

  25. What a wonderful poem for Mothers - absolutely loved it
    The other poem was emotional

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  27. These serendipitous occurrences, such as your owl--some are so eerie as to echo the phrase: THERE ARE NO COINCIDENCES! (This is what I felt when I saw the chocolate duck stain on my pants!)

    Two beautiful poems.

  28. Oh God! This is the cherry on top of all the poems I've read today and yesterday. I loved so much the first dedication, very expressive.

  29. so loving and tender Sherry...thank you for all the kind words over at my blog. I just amended the post, realizing I won't have a chance to put up anything else until the weekend... there is even music if you feel like going back... anyway... a wonderful poem as always:-)

  30. Dear Sherry, I very much love both your poems and also the preamble.

    Wasn't in time to link mine, but it's here:

  31. Sherry, that's wonderful, your mother must be very touched when you read your poem at school. That was a very heartfelt and moving poem.

  32. Seem to remember one of your Dad's pictures too, on a jetty perhaps, and your Mom

    And doesn't she look like Lady Bush!


  33. Beautiful Sherry! I love both poems and I love the message that was delivered to you by the wise owl! Wonderful to read and I too had an experience with my Dad after he passed in a car...mmmh! Interesting...

    She was a beauty and so are you! :D

  34. Sherry,

    These two poems are very beautiful and reflective. The owl is a very symbolic animal and I believe time did stop for that moment when the owl flew in with it's message. I often have a hawk that speaks to me so, I know about these animal symbols and their meanings. Synchronicity in the journey of life. I hope you are well..bright blessings..

  35. This is beautiful. The second poem moved me to tears ...

  36. She is beautiful Sherry and her loving spirit lives in you ~ Beautiful words dear ~


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Thank you so much. I will be over to see you soon!