Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Father's Day, Mom!

Today is a tribute to fathers, in the Poets United Poetry Pantry, and I was a bit stumped about what I would write. I withdrew from my dad in childhood, because I couldnt stand the drinking and the violence. He died when I was thirteen. Decades later, I understand addiction better, and also recognize he was much more than his addiction. But any father's day poem I could honestly write would be a downer. 

Then I read Nene's poem at Life Whispers, wishing his mother a happy Father's Day, and I went aha! My mom raised us after my dad died. She worked hard and struggled greatly, but she never gave up. More than that, when I was a single mom of four small kids, she pitched in and helped me raise them. I cant tell you how many times I'd open a letter and find a hundred dollars inside that totally saved our lives. So yes, I am able to write a father's day poem after all - for my mom!

You were Rosie the Riveter during the war.
Then a hairdresser.
Then a wife and a mom,
a secretary, then a realtor.

Weekends, you got tossed around the living room.
Mondays you would try to hide the bruises.
At breakfast the shrieks and crashes
of the night before 
were never - ever - mentioned.

You grieved when he died,
but you kept on going.
Got a better job,
walked on your painful legs full of varicose veins
to work every day, kept on walking
to bigger and better jobs, 
all the way to the Attorney General's department.

You achieved a semblance 
of security in your life,
but never deep happiness.
You married twice,
but loved only once.

I had my memories of terror,
my shrinking from  loud voices and anger.
It took me too long to recognize the heroic effort
you made to just keep moving forward
through those same years.
When I made that same trek, later,
I understood.

You were so tired, always, 
your groan of relief and pleasure 
could be heard throughout the house when, 
right after supper, you'd go to bed 
with your crime magazines: 
"The moment I've waited for all day!"

Sometimes I'd pass you in the hall, 
grinning guiltily 
with a stack of buttered soda crackers
in one hand.
I think of you every time I butter
my own stack of crackers 
and retire with my book.
I sometimes give that same loud groan.
I think of you then.

How tired you must have been,
for I know how tired I am now.
So tired, yet kids and grandkids 
still need help
though the physical and financial resources 
are so depleted.
Somehow, me and you,
we still manage to come through.

I dont think I ever really 
thanked you properly,
or sufficiently,
for all that help. 
I'm thanking you now, Mom,
for being there when 
the kids' fathers
were not.

And for showing me that Can Do attitude
that got me through my own rough patches,
and that my daughters have inherited,
along with the family cackle
and the huge, depthful true-blue eyes.

Mother's and Father's Days -
they both belong to you.


  1. Parents are always a source of inspiration for us, be it anyway. This poem depicts all your hardships. But you kept going and got inspiration from you mom. Really, we all have a lot to learn from you both. God bless.

  2. What a beautiful tribute to a wonderful human being who taught you so much. Now I know where you learned how to be both wild and strong. Happy Father's Day to you as well, my friend,


  3. What a cool idea for you to come up with. I'm genuinely sorry, though, that you didn't have a father you could admire.

  4. It was difficult to write about Father's day for me too. In a different way. Dad was unique, but he was sick most of the time. I cherish the moments we had - gems of moments.

    I live the life you described in different degrees, and am grateful for Mum too.

    Stay strong Sherry. Stay strong to me. We can both groan and sigh together !

  5. Once again, I applaud you. I am certain you speak for many

  6. This so reminds me of my close friend's mother, who despite being in an abusive relationship, supported and raised nine daughters who loved her dearly. Beautiful tribute to an amazing woman. Wonderful Sherry!

  7. Wow, she sounds like an amazing woman. Thanks so much for sharing this!

  8. Your mother did a wonderful job. You are a supportive and loving parent to all who cross your path. We all benefit from the child your mother raised.

  9. Oh Sherry hugs ... such a brave wonderful tribute and I am sure she's equally proud of you!

  10. This is a beautiful and healing tribute to your mother on Father's Day . . . it is a gift when our depth of understanding and gratitude expands over time.

  11. i love this, Sherry, so much. here is the kicker line for me:
    "When I made that same trek, later,
    I understood."

  12. This is beautiful Sherry I'm always amazed how single women manage to work and raise kids so heroically. Your Mom was a true heroine, and clearly she raised you to be one too. Hope you had a happy Father's Day. You deserve to celebrate.

  13. I truely belive that mon's should get honoured on Father's Day when the to the work of both parents. (and vice versa)

  14. A wonderful idea. I am very very very lucky that I had the most devoted father, who died about a year ago. I also found it a very conflicting holiday - not for the same reasons. But I do understand how you feel here and you've done a wonderful tribute. k.

  15. Beautiful Sherry! My mother and brother share this day-I knew my Dad for almost nineteen years-he only twelve. I can't imagine all she went through, but I do know some of the fringes of this disease. I have a family member with it-it changes the landscape of the family dynamic. It is difficult to say it is a disease-it alters everyone exposed! YOU are the bravest person I know~ This is a conflicting holiday for me-


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