Mostly in private conversation, countless stories about my mother have come out of the woodwork. Whether they are funny, sad, inspiring, or even just plain boring, they bring out new facets of my mother's life and help me to see her in a different light. I would like to start collecting them for posterity. I want my children to know not only the Kathy that I knew, but also the Kathy that is revealed in these countless quiet interactions with people outside of the immediate family. I realize that this may not be the ideal place to share some of these memories, but if you have such a memory, please consider sharing it. If you'd rather share it with me in private, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Here is something I gave to my mom on her birthday two years ago. It isn't necessarily a memory about her, but it is, as Robert Frost put it, the result of a "lump in the throat" and a homesickness while thinking about her. I had forgotten about it, but I came across it yesterday and thought it might resonate with some of the readers of this blog. I use the image of a tree to describe my mother's deft balance of relentless curiosity and innocence. She was both wise and pure; both liberal in her interests and focused in her commitments. I have always admired this about her.
May 26, 2007
She is a strong tree,
Happily, knowingly, restingly bearing
A nesting of trees within trees
She musically resonates
A perfectly disturbed pond-nova
Of white pulp and fiber,
A cross-section history of selves in alignment.
Always growing over what scars
May be born of a constant movement
In order to stay still
She has stood in her own grove,
When the wind seeking her genuflection
With violence to bring her head low,
She first bends her will and head
Lowly with love,
Leaves and branches whistling musically.
As music is both the notes and the cathedral,
She equally listens, reflects, and sings:
Her life is an arabesque
Of shaping without hands,
A delicacy of intervention and trust
Both load-bearing and free-standing
I have to smile with pride—
Half the life of a tree
And she, precociously bearing far more rings
She knows that we are, most of all,
Our very last ring
And she knows that the last ring
Is also the youngest.
She refuses to believe that knowledge kills.
Somewhere along the way,
She learned, as promised,
That the tree of life
Really can be grafted
Into the tree of knowledge,
But her accomplishment is something other:
She’s happily, knowingly, and restingly bearing