his story — untold

My dad is a strong man,
who doesn’t always know
how to express himself,
but whenever he speaks
of his mother, his dark
green eyes boyishly
twinkle with reverence
and regret.
He loved his mother,
as all good sons do.
There’s so much more
to the story that his eyes
reveal, but he keeps
those words locked up
behind his teeth. One day,
I hope to hear all about it,
but for now I’ll settle
for the parts he’s willing
to share.

The Rocking

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My heart swells
as I hold you
so tightly
in my arms

This is
Love

I was
told that
I would
understand it
when I got
older, but I
didn’t believe
them

Until now.

Your sweet
little lashes
kiss your
soft doughy
cheeks, and I
pray…

I pray that you
that you will
be safe

I pray that
you will find
happiness

I pray that you
will feel
loved

I pray that you
will find
love

I pray that you
will be
wise

I pray that you
won’t feel
pain

But mostly
I pray that you
close those
relentless
dark eyes
staring back
at me

and

fall

asleep.


The picture is of my daughter when she was only a week old. They say, all babies have blue eyes, but my daughter had gray steely eyes — her eyes have since turned into a rich brown color, which is stunning against her blonde curls and tan skin. I will never forget all those lovely (and sometimes not so lovely) nights rocking her to sleep. I would think she was finally asleep only to look down and see her dark eyes intently staring back at me, so I would pray — just as I pray now for her and others who are dear to me. 

Marjorie Parkinson

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Eirojram (ee-roje-er-am) Nosnikrap (nose-knee-crap) is what my dad would call her.

Simply put, it’s the backward spelling of my late grandmother.

Stronger and smarter than most; Marge could finish a crossword before the coffee was done.

I never got to meet her and for that I am sad, but this I do know, she raised a good son.

Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt: “It’s the weekend, so I’d thought we might go with something short and just a bit (or a lot) silly – the Clerihew. These are rhymed, humorous quatrains involving a specific person’s name.”

I wouldn’t call my quatrain humorous, but the backward spelling/speak is funny. My dad told me that he went through a phase as a kid where he spoke everything backwards, and his favorite thing to say was his mother’s name. I remember belly-laughing so hard I got the hiccups as he pronounced all the words and names he knew backwards. I tried to provide a pronunciation key in the parentheses, but the characters are limited (e.g. the o sound in “roje” is the long o sound, but I couldn’t find an o with a line over it, so I added the awkward e after it to show the long sound as in rope).

Thanks for reading!

Happy National Poetry Month! “The Laughter of 89 Years” (Poem #1)

To kick off National Poetry Month, here is a poem I wrote about my beloved family matriarchs.

The Laughter of 89 Years

 

The laughter of 89 years

Is heard through her smile.

Her wrinkles tell of simpler times

When telephones couldn’t fit in pockets and purses,

A time when the Internet

Hadn’t wrapped us in its web.

 

Her white curled hair

Tells of beauty parlor days

When our moms were little girls

Playing with the turkeys and kittens

In the barns of small town Minnesota.  

 

Her golden years have come and gone

But her smile still reminds me

Of the smell of gardenia and old books

And the old kewpie dolls on her shelves

That no one could touch

Except for the doll she made

To look just like me. She said she is

Special, specially made for me.

 

Uno games on antique card tables,

The smell of gingersnap cookies baking in the oven,

The sound of the organ, and the ringing of church bells

Remind me of her home

Remind me of her smile

Remind me of her laughter.

gma

These are my great grandmothers. They were bosom buddies especially in their latter years. This picture was the inspiration for this poem. The poem composites my memories of both of these amazingly strong and beautiful women.

When Your Mom Becomes Your Best Friend…

Mothers and daughters have a special relationship (even from the very beginning). I have heard that you are sicker when you’re pregnant with a girl because your hormones are colliding and conflicting with hers. I’m not sure if it’s scientific, but I can attest that I felt horribly sick when I was pregnant with my daughter and that’s really all I can go off of. Regardless of the validity of the dueling hormones in the womb, mothers and daughters have a unique relationship that can swing from laughter to tears in less than two seconds.

This past week, I was able to spend the day with my mom after not seeing her for a couple of weeks. As I sat across from her at lunch, I wondered, when did she become my best friend and my mom? Please note she didn’t stop being my mom once I realized she was my closest and dearest friend. Those attributes were in addition to her role as my mother. I like that that is a constant. She will never stop being my mom. That realization hit me when I had my own daughter. It’s weird to think of my baby girl (who is only five right now) as a grownup one day. To me, she will always be the sweet baby girl I rocked to sleep night after night after night after night. I literally can see her as a baby when I look at her little cherub face even now. It must be a mom thing because I know my mom sees me the same way. I can honestly say I know my mom loves and adores me, and it’s something I cherish. It is also something I recognize in my relationship with my daughter. So, back to my original pondering, when did my mom become my best friend? Was it when I turned 18 and became a legal, voting adult? Was it when I moved out and went to college? Was it after I got married? Was it after I had my own child?

The answer is yes. Yes to all the questions. Little by little I realized my mom has always been in my corner. She is always there to encourage me. She is always there to lend an ear and advice (when asked to give it…and most of the time it’s a “mom, what should I do? What would you do?” type situation). She gets me. She can tell when I’m using my fake “I’m fine” voice. She can always read in between the lines because she was there when the “lines” were penned. The thing that makes my mom not just my mom is her ability to always give me the benefit of the doubt; this quality can be seen in most friendships. She’s always thinking and hoping the best for me, so when I have an issue that I’m dealing with, she listens to me and helps me fix the problem rather than trying to fix me.

For the record, I would like to share that my mom was not my friend when I was growing up, and I am eternally grateful for that. She was definitely not the Amy Poehler character from Mean Girls: “I’m a cool [Juicy jogging suit wearing] mom” who served teens alcohol because she “preferred them to drink in the house.” No, my mom was the one who would always side with the teachers when I got in trouble at school (and rightly so). She was one to set rules and keep them. I’m sure she wanted to be liked (which is the “cool mom’s” only priority), and who doesn’t want to be liked? But more importantly for her, she wanted me to learn how to be a responsible adult, so she was my mom and not my friend during my formative years. I am so grateful for that mature decision she made ––to be the adult and be my mom even when things got tough (and when adolescent hormones are involved, it’s always tough).

So, as I sat across from my mom last week at lunch, I thought to myself how lucky I am to have such an amazing relationship with my mom. We ordered and split our usual meal and sat and talked (for far longer than our server probably would have liked) about everything from skincare to work, from marriage to parenting, from vacations to the books we are currently reading and the TV shows we are obsessed with. Looking back at my adolescent years, I would have never thought lunch with my mom could be so entertaining and refreshing to my spirit and so necessary to my existence. And as I thought about my gratitude, I said a little prayer that one day I could be at lunch with my grownup daughter splitting our usual meal and chatting about all the complexities of our lives over shared smiles and laughter.motherdaughter