January – the start of a new year. Time for taking stock and planning for the future. But it’s at this time every year that I tend to stop and look back. It’s at this time I feel the loss of family members and dear friends who weren’t here to take their place at the Christmas table or help decorate the tree.
At this time of the year, the house falls silent. Family and visitors have gone home to start their new year. I’m left to take down the tree and put away the angel that has topped our tree since I was a wee child. It’s now, as I take down the last of the lights and garland, that I feel my mother’s absence the most.
The number one question I get by those who have read Breaking TWIG, is “Was your mother like Helen?” “No,” I say. “She was the polar opposite …..always putting the needs of others above her own, always encouraging me.” Mother-daughter relationships are funny. We spend half our lives trying NOT to be like our mother, and the rest of our lives wishing we had her wisdom, her generosity of spirit, and her faith in her God, in her children, and in the innate goodness of people. So even though my talents in writing poetry are sorely lacking, Mom, this poem is for you.
THE OTHER WOMAN
I saw her again today, the other woman in my life.
I was sharing family secrets with my daughter
when I heard the other woman’s voice repeating my words–
Mocking me, taunting me, daring me to deny her presence once again.
The first time I saw her, I turned away.
“She’s not real,” I told myself. Just the imagination of a middle-aged wife and mother.
But then I saw her again in the dress shop,
checking prices first, sizes second.
“Go away,” I ordered. “You’re not welcomed here.”
I know who I am, what I like,
and how best to get through the day.
She laughed and said, “Get used to it, honey. I’m here to stay.”
With each passing year her intrusions continued–
less subtle, more frequent,
Until at last, I grew weary of fighting her inevitable presence.
Her influence, I could no longer deny.
More and more her mannerisms seep inside of me.
Qualities I once ridiculed now demand my belated respect.
So in graceful defeat, I wrap myself in her cloak,
letting her wisdom and memories merge with my own until they are one.
Yes, I saw her again today,
the other woman in my life.
I saw my mother . . . in me.
Thanks for stopping by,