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The summer months bring memories of mothers, fathers, families, and friends. Here are a few of mine. My dear friend Jo-ann’s birthday was in June.

Visions of My Mother


I see her trudging off to work. The figure of a middle-aged woman wrapped in a full-length fur
coat and boots. I call it her “Joan Crawford” coat. She didn’t have a car, so she walked the mile
or two.
I see her in a faded cotton housedress with hedge clippers in hand, the sound of metal on metal
scissoring away as beads of perspiration formed above her lips.
I see her going off to baby-sitting jobs in the evening or on a Saturday afternoon, for the money
to keep us in Catholic school. She always wears a straight black skirt and a short-sleeved red
sweater; her figure is as thin as a pencil.
I see her making coffee cake late at night wrapped in her old pink chenille bathrobe, Ponds Cold
Cream smeared on her face.
I see her in the basement, tending the furnace because the pilot light went out, cursing to
herself “Hell’s Fire”. Quite appropriate now that I think about it!
But I also see her escaping into the pages of the latest Ellery Queen mystery novel, or watching
her favorite westerns on television: Maverick, Sugarfoot, and The Big Valley.
She remarried later in life. Burdens were dissolved. Hard work rewarded by having raised
three self-sufficient children.
But I will always remember her as the woman who could conquer anything. More because she
had to than wanted to.


My father died when I was five
but so strong the memories.....
He, Red Rider; me Little Beaver
stepping through the giant pages
of an opened storybook.
I’m peeking into the bathroom
that connects our bedrooms.
I see him tall and strong
shaving with a straight razor.
I hop out of bed to join him
in our morning game of cowboys.
He is Red Rider (known as a “peaceable man”)
and I am his sidekick Little Beaver.
He comments on the Black Hats
who have been rustling cattle over yonder
and a plan to catch ‘em and rope ‘em up.
My answer is always “You Betchum”
which is all Little Beaver ever said
in the Saturday matinees.
We’re around our dining room table,
he’s teaching us to play poker while
Mommy is at the Wednesday Night Bingo.
We use crisp round pretzels for chips
and, of course, get to eat our winnings.
I’m running into our bungalow house crying:
“The neighborhood bully threatened me.”
“Go out there and kick him in the shins”.
“You betchum”.
That bully never messed with me again!
I see the doctor coming on his weekly
visit, black bag in hand.
Daddy introduces me as “Nurse Jones”
and the good doc plays along.
I use my toy Doctor’s Kit,
probably as effective as the real one.
Sometimes I wonder how it would be if he had lived.

Would we have stayed so close or would we
have clashed and argued, since everyone tells me
I’m the most like him.
But, alas, that wasn’t the case
and I think I prefer the memory
that lingers in my heart
of the strong Red Rider (a “peaceable man”)
who, along with my childhood
rode off into the sunset much too soon.



A soft chestnut brown pageboy
Framing a flawless complexion.
Creamy chocolate eyes
Mirroring unknown sorrow.
Too much responsibility at
a young age.
Married too young as a means
of escape.
Became a mother too young.
Divorced to young.
She finally poured escape
from a bottle.
It transported her to hell and back
many times.
She was beautiful.
She was sad.
She was my sister.
And I loved her.
She died too young.

To Jo-Ann

You haunt me on this crisp blue shiny day
Pulling me back to that day so many years ago
When I drove you home for the last time
Our final journey an unwanted end of the line
We longed to cling to the past
To etch it in our frightened hearts
Freeze that moment in time
Like a period after a beautiful story
I steered through a brilliance of bittersweet
Autumn leaves
We allowed the music from Out Of Africa
To infuse us, embrace us
You turned to me, whispered “Beautiful”
I said: “I know”
Then we were silent
All had been said all had been shared
Except the coming end

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