Remembering

Monday Morning Musings:

My mom and me. I’m about 3 years old.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“History says don’t hope

On this side of the grave.

But then, once in a lifetime

The longed for tidal wave

Of justice can rise up

And hope and history rhyme.”

–Seamus Heaney, “Doubletake”, The Cure of Troy

Lines quoted by Joe Biden at DNC 2020

 

My Mom’s Last Birthday Party
Remember when blowing out candles on a cake was something we did?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My mother would be ninety-eight today–

we’d hug and kiss, and smile in the way

 

you do with people you love–when we could and did,

we never thought it all would end, we’d bid

 

farewell to normal hopes, and sail into tomorrow

on boats barely afloat, fueled by sorrow

 

and a bit of hate. Yes, for the dissembler and enablers

who’ve made the situation worse. The world’s more unstable,

 

increasing so every day. And yet they play with clichéd lines–

heavy-handed, rabble-rousing—creating conspiracies, signs

 

of the time and getting worse. The storms come, the fires burn

still the seasons, turn, turn, turn—

 

I walk and think of flowers, our year of sitting amidst blooms,

the garden a refuge of sort from boredom, doom, the rooms

We spent a lot of time in this garden.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

that confined you—and us–as we kept you company,

week after week, watching for changes, hungrily

 

asking you to remember the past, but wanting you to see

what you could of now, of me,

 

and we ached, all of us,

and we’d discuss

 

each change, each day, the words you’d say

of imaginary pets and our dead father, weigh

 

hope, laughter, grief in equal measure

and still remember and treasure—

 

a gift you’ve given me, to lift my face to the sun

to see that there are many, not just one

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

way to see color, beauty, light

the way it changes on the water and fades slowly into night

 

Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

where perhaps I’ll hear a mockingbird sing farewell–

a lullaby rather than a knell–

 

a song of love, of peace, of rising up–it’s time,

it’s time, that hope and history rhyme.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As some of you know, my mother died in April from Covid-related complications. Today she’d be ninety-eight. We couldn’t be with her when she died, and we haven’t really had a memorial. Tonight my husband, daughters, their spouses, and I will have a virtual dinner get together. I baked my and her favorite cookies over the weekend, and I’m baking a cake today.

Madelbrat (aka, Mommy Cookies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Thursday, my husband and I had a date night at a winery. We bought tickets a month before, but we were fortunate that the humidity was gone that day, and it was beautiful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Before and the After

Monday Morning Musings:

“For every atom belonging to me as good
Belongs to you.
   Remember?”

SINGULARITY by Marie Howe (after Stephen Hawking) 

 

Before the before,

or perhaps, after the after

of each birth, of each death

we are not,

and then we are

 

the dust of centuries,

circling round

what we know,

and what we’ve forgotten

of love and time and belonging

 

to stars and earth and sea—

remember this, I say to myself,

I say to you, remember when?

And we laugh, remembering

what it was like

 

to be with people,

to sit outside on a summer night–

the things we thought we’d always have,

forgetting time circles

back to the before and the after

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she died and he died–

mothers and fathers and children–

and who is to say the momma duck

does not love her offspring as much as we,

or what they remember of before

 

they swam in a river.

Crow voices his concerns, proclaims and prompts

us to action that we ignore,

like the goose looking for the tastiest grass,

we go about our lives, walking past

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the river, watching reflections,

reflecting on a world upside down,

tide and time-rippled,

sparkling, then clouded over

like an aged brain

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Tree reflection on Delaware River

filled with hidden recesses

and paths that lead to unexpected spaces—

the road not taken

to the wolf in the woods, to sleeping beauty,

to a forgotten love

 

before the before–

or, perhaps, after the after,

when the sun does not rise again,

imploding instead, and we are atoms,

dust returning light to the stars, remembering.

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Portrait in Blue Goose on the Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield, July 2020 ©️Merril D. Smith

 

 

We actually went out to a winery last week–Vino and Vibes at William Heritage Winery. With cases in the U.S. going up (though not so much in New Jersey), we may not do it again, but it the tables were well spread out—much more than six feet apart. Everyone wore masks when they were not at their own reserved tables, so it seemed as safe as anything is these days. My siblings and I are in the process of clearing out the storage unit where all of my mom’s stuff went after she died. Everything has been complicated by the Covid 19 situation and the need to keep socially/physically distant.

Merril’s Movie Club: We watched a new Australian horror movie, Relic, which I thought was very scary—perhaps because it deals with dementia, which is terrifying to me anyway. We also watched the French movie, The Midwife, which is about family and relationships and has wonderful performances by Catherine Frot, as the midwife, Catherine Deneuve as a woman from her past, and Olivier Gourmet, as a gardening, truck driver neighbor. I liked both movies more than my husband did. We’re also about two thirds done with the third and final season of the German show, Dark (on Netflix). We are totally lost and confused, but loving it anyway.