What I Learned from My Mother
Oh how I hate being cliche… but how could I not make a Mother’s Day post? Since I know that all of you have brunches to attend and mandatory runs to the florist to complete, I’ll keep this short. I just wanted to share with you all a beautiful poem I just read by a Pennsylvanian poet, Julia Kasdorf (1992).
What I Learned From My Mother
I learned from my mother how to love
the living, to have plenty of vases on hand
in case you have to rush to the hospital
with peonies cut from the lawn, black ants
still stuck to the buds. I learned to save jars
large enough to hold fruit salad for a whole
grieving household, to cube home-canned pears
and peaches, to slice through maroon grape skins
and flick out the sexual seeds with a knife point.
I learned to attend viewing even if I didn’t know
the deceased, to press the moist hands
of the living, to look in their eyes and offer
sympathy, as though I understood loss even then.
I learned that whatever we say means nothing,
what anyone will remember is that we came.
I learned to believe I had the power to ease
awful pains materially like an angel.
Like a doctor, I learned to create
from another’s suffering my own usefulness, and once
you know how to do this, you can never refuse.
To every house you enter, you must offer
healing: a chocolate cake you baked yourself,
the blessing of your voice, your chaste touch.
I’ll have to create a separate post (or possibly blog) to describe everything I’ve learned from my own mother, but here are a few highlights. I’ve learned… That tomorrow is another day. To wait until the person has cleared the vicinity to start gossiping about them. That being true to myself is the most important thing I can do. That I can’t please everyone. That microwaving does in fact count as cooking. That I am smart. That no one can make me feel inferior without my consent (so she might have stolen that one from Elenore Roosevelt, but I’ll always attribute it to her). That french fries sometimes can be a vegetable. To express how I feel. That a woman can both work and raise a family. That my partner should love and respect me without condition. To take a stand for what I believe in. And to embrace the present.
So, on this beautiful day devoted to those who have loved and supported us…
What have you learned from your mother?