When my mother died,
one untamed light went out
in an enormous room.
You could really see the difference.
When my mother died started in an unexpected place.
On a Saturday morning, one of the few times I relax with my thoughts, I composed a short poem about my father. He’s been dead now for longer than seems possible.
That might not strike you immediately as an unexpected launch pad, but they went angrily in very different directions long before either passed on.
Different as people, their paths were as divergent as their personalities and values. When you think “mom and dad,” you probably get an image of couple, not necessarily compatible, but together.
I can’t remember ever seeing them in the same place at the same time, and I can’t imagine it either.
Never shall the parental twain meet…
Dad was serious, controlled, sober, responsible. He had to be. He was the original Single Dad. He raised five of us — and we weren’t easy — without a partner, none of us over 10 when he started.
Mom was the opposite. She was as wild and free as a woman of her generation could be. An orphan at 16, she married my father soon after, became pregnant, right away, and cherished the security.
She had five children before she was 23.
It broke her heart, but she couldn’t stay.
When my mother died, she took all the stories with her…
Tormented by guilt in an age for acting out when few women declared their independence, she glowed with optimism. Why shouldn’t she?
She made it through more than most of us will ever have to.
I loved her. She loved me.
The rest is just narrative.
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