Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

On Thanksgiving Day, the second anniversary of my Mother’s death, I had the rare privilege of seeing the Davis County Clipper do a feature on the two women who helped me with my book – Michelle Pierce (the designer) and her Mom, Louise D. Brown (my editor).  A special thanks to reporter Tom Busselberg.   A big fan of newspapers…I just know my Mom has read the article :)

See the story here:

Read Full Post »

My Mother died on Thanksgiving Night of 2006.  Yet this will be a joyous holiday for me, because I chose to settle things with Mom before she died.  If you haven’t done so, do it now.  Whatever the history, no matter how horrible her crime, find a way to forgive.  Trust me, this is a selfish act.  You will be doing it for yourself.  Oh, yes…it will make your Mother much happier too (big smile).

My Mom and I…what to say.  Our relationship was tumultuous, competitive and sometimes felt downright mean.  We were polar opposites.  Yet a soft little voice warned me I’d better get my ducks in a row before her death.

She didn’t have long.  It could happen right then, or six months from now.  Her heart was failing. What magnificent, yet untried tool could bust through this ugly crust of mutual dislike built so meticulously in five decades?

And if I did break through, would she misunderstand?  Make fun of me?  Assume I was admitting I was wrong and she right?  Would she see my open armor and take advantage with a verbal jab? 

Even more frightening, would she suddenly assume I agreed with her on politics…that I’m ready to rejoin her religion? 

This task was like tatting.  Highly delicate.  One bad move and the beautiful lace is forever scarred.  My Mother was a formidable, opinionated woman.

I began in small steps.  I visited more often, always bringing a nice treat (one of her weaknesses…sweets).  Disarmed by this, she would fix me my favorite childhood meal, grilled tuna fish sandwiches.  Or we’d sip glass after glass of tap water and she’d talk about books she’d read, parties she’d attended, gossip from her volunteer job.  Whenever politics or religion came up, I nimbly diverted her train of thought with a funny story or joke.  This took a lot of work initially, but she finally realized I had unbuckled my holster…and let it fall to the ground.  Her one gun did not a good gunfight make.

This process of forgiving was a selfish act.  I was healing me.  I was also forgiving myself for the mean things I’d said and done to my Mother.  My ego stood in the way and I had to dismantle it. 

1. What difference did it make if she didn’t love me like I wanted?
2. What did it matter that she loved one of my siblings so much more than me?
3. So what if she thought the way I lived my life would prevent me from going to heaven?
4. What difference did it make that I didn’t really like her personality, nor she mine?

And finally…(and I find this very amusing now)

5. What difference did it make if she still insisted weapons of mass destruction were in Iraq…even after George and his administration admitted that wasn’t the case?

In the big staredown with death, none of the above mattered anymore.

As the summer heat grew heavy, her health began to decline.  I became her chauffer to a number of medical facilities.  At times, she appeared ready to die right in the waiting room.  Her heart was failing and the doctors had run out of ideas, and medicine.  This softened her in an unexpected way.  Here was Mom, facing her end.  All I could do was listen.  I was hardly experienced in end-of-life fear.  My gift:  I kept my belligerent mouth shut, and proceeded to get to know her for the first time in my life.

As children, we expect our parents to dote on us.  We expect to be the center of their universe.  Our hearts break when we learn otherwise.  Such is the sadness in growing up.  There is a sudden moment in time when you transform into the parent, allowing your parent to rest and prepare to die.

One late lazy afternoon, we sat in the backyard.  In a rare moment of  rare vulnerability, she asked me to read the words to a religious song called, “Where do I Turn For Peace?”  I sucked in a nervous, tense breath, worried the conversation was again headed for religion.  Then my dear inner voice told me to get over it.

I read the poem with all my heart.  My life change in that second, just as dramatic as Helen Keller saying “water” for the first time.  My stocked-full-of-lead backpack suddenly fell off my shoulder.  The act of surrender massaged my back, one nearly broken from the weight of anger.  

As I scanned the lyrics, I felt her looking at me, studying my face, as if for the first time.   And I was giving her permission to do so without saying, “what are you looking at?” Perspiration gathered uncomfortably on my eyelids…and they fluttered with embarrassment.  I could feel it.  She was looking at me, loving me, regarding me as her precious creation.  This raided my heart with near shock.  It felt so Damn good, I took my sweet time reading the piece.  I wanted to feel her heartfelt gaze.  Was this the beginning?  Could we finally “make peace?”

Back at home that night, I poured out my heart in two poems and sent them to her immediately.  She called back, enthralled…because I hadn’t written poetry since I was a child, when I couldn’t really write,  She, a typist, had been my scribe.  Long ago in poetry we had found our peace pipe.

Our visits became more joyous, despite how terrible she felt.  I suppose our newfound relationship may have encouraged her to live a little longer.  But that was not to be. 

Hospice was prescribed, and for two weeks she lay dying.  I coaxed her through it with the most sincere effort I’ve ever pledged.

Now, Mother’s Day is deep-hearted.  No sad memories for me.  I made peace with Mom, and she with me.

And so, dear reader…work things out with your Mom.  You’ll never regret it.

Strange Embrace
-by Linda Athis

The most loving embrace
I ever gave,
was over a toilet.

There sat my Mother
unable to speak,
pleading for response
from a body shutting down.

Our eyes met in fear.
We did not share
what we both knew.
Death whispered near.

I’m sorry she said,
as if she caused this,
had cruelly wished a curse
upon me, her caregiver.

In that second my heart split,
ripped raw by a mean and jagged knife.
My stronger, youthful arms reached out,
fiercely wrapped around her bony frame.

And there we paused
in a deep, strange embrace.
Resting, loving, weeping
for all things left unsaid.

-end-

More poetry like this at forgivingmom.com

Read Full Post »

November has arrived, and with it one of the most powerful memories I have. My Mother died Thanksgiving night.  I’d often wondered how it felt when you lost someone on an important holiday.  Now I know, and I wrote the following poem – reflecting on a most wonderful passing…

Thanksgiving Surrender  by Linda Athis

How sad,
people say,
when I tell them Mom died
Thanksgiving Day.

I stop them abruptly.
Correct their view.
What a powerful death
on a meaningful date!

We knew she was close,
when the holiday came.
Her wasting frame,
gray and heavy in shallow sleep.

At times, her eyes flew open,
shockingly skyward.
Hands gestured wildly,
lips uttered feisty whispered words.
Such a rough and tough debate
with something invisible.
An argument with a heavenly coax?

Three siblings, three shifts,
on Thanksgiving Day.
Sister the night,
Brother took morning.
Me midday.

I entered alone,
into sacred space.
No more grudges.
No more hate.
All peace treaties inked
by mother, by daughter.
But I must admit
I took one last stand,
and…
dared to crawl under bedcovers beside her.
Did I violate her tender space?
A mischievous smile swiftly lifted my face.
This time, she’s too weak,
can’t push me away!

For two divine hours
I rubbed her head.
Her contented snore grew deep and loud.
I watched her breathe.
Please…call off this fight.
Time to invite
surrender.

Then,
the final break:
An anxious brother, sister in-law,
restaurant turkey
tucked in their stomachs,
invade the room.

My eyes convey the news.
Not gone, no. Not gone yet.
I put lips to her ear:
Mom, I’m leaving now,
if you go before I’m back,
that’s okay by me.

Then husband and I
joined dear, caring friends.
We shared a turkey,
not much was said,
then sat on a deck and stared at the stars.
It was then
as we sipped soothing wine,
that she chose her time.

Thanksgiving nights
will now be deep-hearted.
No festival ruined.
Sheer joy in having
a yearly memory delivered,
and a white flag brilliantly waved.

Read Full Post »

A strange event today.  It shook me up a little.  My PDA reminded me to buy a card and gift for my Mom’s Birthday in several days.  My Mom died two years ago.  My fingers did their duty, automatically moving to delete this “repeat” I had programmed into my lifetime calendar.  But something said NO! 

And so…I will not delete this nudge, this reminder.  It is almost like getting a direct message from Mom.  What a lovely experience  : )

I’ve done the same with friends who’ve passed.  I will not, cannot hit the delete button and remove their information.  They live on in my computer’s memory…and thankfully in mine.

Read Full Post »

Yes I mean it.  I’m in a giving mood, I’ll even pay the postage.  Be one of the first ten people to post a comment to this site and I will send you a free copy of my latest book, “Forgiving Mom.”

Read Full Post »

My Mother was rabid when it came to political debates.  She loved presenting a point of view to all of us (my brother, sister and me) and then encouraging us to debate it.  She’d sit back with a grin as we all got madder and madder.  The behavior puzzled me.

Several days before she died, my Mother, a “die hard” Republican who still loved Richard Nixon and still believed  weaspons of mass destruction were somewhere in Iraq (long after the administration had said otherwise) looked at me and said, “Well, what do you think of our current leadership in America?”

“Mom,” I said gently, “I’m not talking politics with you (we hadn’t discussed them for more than a decade….and it gave us both some peace).”

Mom knew I wasn’t fond of George Bush or a Republican party that could be so mean-spirited and get away with it.

But here she was on her deathbed, asking me about George Bush.  When she realized I wasn’t going to answer, she answered for me.  What a deathbed confession!  A little sideways and indirect…but I knew exactly what she meant.

“As Thomas Jefferson once said, ‘Absolute power corrupts absolutely’ ” she said.

Mom…I wish you were alive today, to see the political drama that lies ahead.  I know your eyes would be ablaze with excitement.

Now, a poem I wrote when I wasn’t even voting age (1970).

The Day After Elections -by Linda Athis

A cold wind rattles tattered campaign signs.

Wall street wakes with a fear of the past.

“The winners are winning,

the losers are losing!”

Please put down your placards, flags and buttons.

Playtime’s over men.

Go back to your ten commandments…

’til the next campaign year.

Read Full Post »

I received a wonderful post from Linda Jara.  She wrote a poem about an experience in her youth, and told me I was free to share it with you.  Thanks Linda.

I Missed you

Mom wasn’t there and Dad wasn’t there
My class performed a musical
I looked out but couldn’t find them

It was only sixth grade
But I felt a strange emptiness
I didn’t want to seem important
I wanted them just to see my joy

Dancing with the boys
Being lifted up by the waist
In a dance move
Us singing “Silent Night”
In German

For me it was terribly romantic
But something went missing
And it was them

 

Read Full Post »

No Mom for Mother’s Day…

My mother is deceased.  I have no children.   There will be no typical celebration for my Mom, or for me. 

My Mother died on Thanksgiving Night of 2006.  This will be my second “no Mom for Mother’s Day.”  Yet this will be a joyous day for me, because I chose to settle things with Mom before she died.  If you haven’t done so, do it now.  Whatever the history, no matter how horrible her crime, find a way to forgive.  Trust me, this is a selfish act.  You will be doing it for yourself.  Oh, yes…it will make your Mother much happier too (big smile).

My Mom and I…what to say.  Our relationship was tumultuous, competitive and sometimes felt downright mean.  We were polar opposites.  Yet a soft little voice warned me I’d better get my ducks in a row before her death.

She didn’t have long.  It could happen right then, or six months from now.  Her heart was failing. What magnificent, yet untried tool could bust through this ugly crust of mutual dislike built so meticulously in five decades?

And if I did break through, would she misunderstand?  Make fun of me?  Assume I was admitting I was wrong and she right?  Would she see my open armor and take advantage with a verbal jab? 

Even more frightening, would she suddenly assume I agreed with her on politics…that I’m ready to rejoin her religion? 

This task was like tatting.  Highly delicate.  One bad move and the beautiful lace is forever scarred.  My Mother was a formidable, opinionated woman.

I began in small steps.  I visited more often, always bringing a nice treat (one of her weaknesses…sweets).  Disarmed by this, she would fix me my favorite childhood meal, grilled tuna fish sandwiches.  Or we’d sip glass after glass of tap water and she’d talk about books she’d read, parties she’d attended, gossip from her volunteer job.  Whenever politics or religion came up, I nimbly diverted her train of thought with a funny story or joke.  This took a lot of work initially, but she finally realized I had unbuckled my holster…and let it fall to the ground.  Her one gun did not a good gunfight make.

This process of forgiving was a selfish act.  I was healing me.  I was also forgiving myself for the mean things I’d said and done to my Mother.  My ego stood in the way and I had to dismantle it. 

1. What difference did it make if she didn’t love me like I wanted?
2. What did it matter that she loved one of my siblings so much more than me?
3. So what if she thought the way I lived my life would prevent me from going to heaven?
4. What difference did it make that I didn’t really like her personality, nor she mine?

And finally…(and I find this very amusing now)

5. What difference did it make if she still insisted weapons of mass destruction were in Iraq…even after George and his administration admitted that wasn’t the case?

In the big staredown with death, none of the above mattered anymore.

As the summer heat grew heavy, her health began to decline.  I became her chauffer to a number of medical facilities.  At times, she appeared ready to die right in the waiting room.  Her heart was failing and the doctors had run out of ideas, and medicine.  This softened her in an unexpected way.  Here was Mom, facing her end.  All I could do was listen.  I was hardly experienced in end-of-life fear.  My gift:  I kept my belligerent mouth shut, and proceeded to get to know her for the first time in my life.

As children, we expect our parents to dote on us.  We expect to be the center of their universe.  Our hearts break when we learn otherwise.  Such is the sadness in growing up.  There is a sudden moment in time when you transform into the parent, allowing your parent to rest and prepare to die.

One late lazy afternoon, we sat in the backyard.  In a rare moment of  rare vulnerability, she asked me to read the words to a religious song called, “Where do I Turn For Peace?”  I sucked in a nervous, tense breath, worried the conversation was again headed for religion.  Then my dear inner voice told me to get over it.

I read the poem with all my heart.  My life change in that second, just as dramatic as Helen Keller saying “water” for the first time.  My stocked-full-of-lead backpack suddenly fell off my shoulder.  The act of surrender massaged my back, one nearly broken from the weight of anger.  

As I scanned the lyrics, I felt her looking at me, studying my face, as if for the first time.   And I was giving her permission to do so without saying, “what are you looking at?” Perspiration gathered uncomfortably on my eyelids…and they fluttered with embarrassment.  I could feel it.  She was looking at me, loving me, regarding me as her precious creation.  This raided my heart with near shock.  It felt so Damn good, I took my sweet time reading the piece.  I wanted to feel her heartfelt gaze.  Was this the beginning?  Could we finally “make peace?”

Back at home that night, I poured out my heart in two poems and sent them to her immediately.  She called back, enthralled…because I hadn’t written poetry since I was a child, when I couldn’t really write,  She, a typist, had been my scribe.  Long ago in poetry we had found our peace pipe.

Our visits became more joyous, despite how terrible she felt.  I suppose our newfound relationship may have encouraged her to live a little longer.  But that was not to be. 

Hospice was prescribed, and for two weeks she lay dying.  I coaxed her through it with the most sincere effort I’ve ever pledged.

Now, Mother’s Day is deep-hearted.  No sad memories for me.  I made peace with Mom, and she with me.

And so, dear reader…work things out with your Mom.  You’ll never regret it.

Strange Embrace
-by Linda Athis

The most loving embrace
I ever gave,
was over a toilet.

There sat my Mother
unable to speak,
pleading for response
from a body shutting down.

Our eyes met in fear.
We did not share
what we both knew.
Death whispered near.

I’m sorry she said,
as if she caused this,
had cruelly wished a curse
upon me, her caregiver.

In that second my heart split,
ripped raw by a mean and jagged knife.
My stronger, youthful arms reached out,
fiercely wrapped around her bony frame.

And there we paused
in a deep, strange embrace.
Resting, loving, weeping
for all things left unsaid.

-end-

More poetry like this at forgivingmom.com

 

Read Full Post »

I once heard a religious sage say, “the past isn’t over and the future has already happened.”  As I ponder this, I realize that when a loved one dies (my Mother recently died), many of our minds kindly wipe out bad memories and focus on the good ones.  I find myself doing that as I approach Mother’s Day.  But I also think it is wise to remember your Mom for who she was, the good and the bad.  When we can look at our parents as near equals as we age – with faults just like us – the true healing begins.

Below, a poem from one of those moments when Mom and I were not getting along. She had a hangup, understandibly so (given the days of Twiggy and thin fashion), with weight.

Love by the Pound- by Linda Athis

I saw you do it, Mom.
You cannot hide
the stolen glance I see
each time we meet.
We hug,
and you look down
at my belly.

No.
I’ve not lost weight.
Not even tried.
Those days are gone.
I only wish
your wishing was.

I was your beauty,
but then came the years,
not wrinkles—
pounds.

You loved me dearly once,
when my wrists and knees
were sparrow thin.
You held me gently,
and whispered your concern.
But I knew your secret.
You loved it.

That is why, now,
when you steal that glance,
I know…
ten pounds, twenty pounds,
it doesn’t matter.
It separates us.
How sad.
You’ve lost your beautiful daughter.

I will not go back.
No Mother’s love can make me do that.
But I know you feel differently.

Think!
Would you have me die early
to be beautiful?

 

Read Full Post »

Are you like me?  My Mother died last year.  Also, I don’t have children…so the day will come and go like any other.

But luckily, I am not sad.  In six short weeks, my Mother and I covered a lot of territory.  After decades of anger, all of the emotion fell away.  We embraced, expressed love like we never did in the past, and I helped her die.  It was such a beautiful experience.

So I suppose Mother’s Day won’t just pass like any other day, will it?  My memory is very warm  : )

Strange Embrace – by Linda Athis

The most loving embrace
I ever gave,
was over a toilet.

There sat my Mother
unable to speak,
pleading for response
from a body shutting down.

Our eyes met in fear.
We did not share
what we both knew.
Death whispered near.

I’m sorry she said,
as if she caused this,
had cruelly wished a curse
upon me, her caregiver.

In that second my heart split,
ripped raw by a mean and jagged knife.
My stronger, youthful arms reached out,
fiercely wrapped around her bony frame.

And there we paused
in a deep, strange embrace.
Resting, loving, weeping
for all things left unsaid.

Read Full Post »

Former President Jimmy Carter will be releasing his book, “A Remarkable Mother,”  , published by Thorndike Press, on May 2nd.  It should make for an interesting read.  When I hear wonderful tales about great mothers, I have a streak of jealousy in me.  I hope to get over it  : )

The Rocky Mountain News has a review out today.

Read Full Post »

For Immediate Release
Contact:
Rod Goodliffe  801.583.2549
Rod@forgivingmom.com

A Poetry Gift Book by Linda Athis  
 
April 14, 2008 – Salt Lake City, UT – A Utah poet has penned a gift book for the 2008 Mother’s Day, Memorial Day season – just released at www.forgivingmom.com.
 
“I used to get angry looking for Mother’s Day cards.  None reflected my reality.  Complex and conflicted,” admits author Linda Athis, “that was my relationship with Mom.
 
Quite dramatically, near the end of her life, I had a huge, emotional download.  I was anxious and driven.  I could not stop the words, scribbling on scraps of paper, restaurant napkins, crying into a digital recorder.  Once I hid in the bathroom to dictate my poetry, not wanting to worry my already alarmed husband. 
 
As my Mother’s health began to decline, I chose to share most of these poems with her.  Their effect on both of us– the understanding, love, and surrender was startling and unforeseen.  It has made living much easier for me.   Only days after her death, I heard Mom’s voice in my head: ‘Now you can publish your poetry.’  And so I have.”
 
About the Book
 
The true relationship between many mothers and daughters is subterranean:  Hidden guilt, lifelong verbal jabs, a cruel unspoken level of competition, and a frustrating inability to live up to the Hallmark Card verse we send or receive on Mother’s Day.  This is a book meant to heal – to give courage to mothers and daughters to work things out before the inevitable and final separation – death.
 
This is a book for:

1.Boomers dealing with aging/dying parents.
2.Gen Y women frustrated with their moms.
3.Mothers with rebellious children.
4.The growing ranks of hospice workers, grief counselors and their patients.

Category:  Gift-book, poetry
Cover Design: Michelle Pierce
Publication Date:  April  2008
Pages: 22. 14 poems
Retail price: $16.96
ISBN: 978-0-9815122-0-4

Gift-book quality paper and cover, bound with concealed wire.
Published by:  Ponderbooks Publishing
P.0. Box 58192
Salt Lake City, UT 84108-8192

About the Author 

A Utah native, Linda Athis earns a living as a freelance business writer.  She longs for the day whenher biggest paycheck comes from her own creative writing.
 
The author has had many identities: Janitor, waitress, actress, appliance saleswoman, Avon lady, business executive, and wife.  As evidenced by her poetry, she is also a reformed rebellious daughter. 

Enjoy more of Linda’s poetry online:
 
www.forgivingmom.com
www.secondbloom.wordpress.com
www.firstbird.wordpress.com

Read Full Post »

My mom loved me.
I denied it for years,
until years of living told me.

It wasn’t as if she readily said it.
For her, that was too difficult.
Yet a tiny sack of garden tomatoes
slipped tenderly inside my porch door,
a heat pad tucked secretly in my bed,
a gesture to warm me,
the night my father died.

These were the proof
I denied for years.
Love gifted to me in tiny ways,
but my youthful daze
cruelly missed it.

Read Full Post »

I saw you do it, Mom.
You cannot hide
the stolen glance I see
each time we meet.
We hug,
and you look down
at my belly.

So sorry.
I’ve not lost weight.
Not even tried.
Those days are gone.
I only wish
your wishing was.

I was your beauty,
but then came the years,
not wrinkles—
pounds.

You loved me dearly once,
when my wrists and knees
were sparrow thin.
You held me gently,
and whispered your concern.
But I knew your secret.
You loved it.

That is why, now,
when you steal that glance,
I know…
ten pounds, twenty pounds,
it doesn’t matter.
It separates us.
How sad.
You’ve lost your beautiful daughter.

I will not go back.
No Mother’s love can make me do that.
But I know you feel differently.

Think!
Would you have me die early
to be beautiful?

Read Full Post »

The most loving embrace
I ever gave,
was over a toilet.

There sat my Mother
unable to speak,
pleading for response
from a body shutting down.

Our eyes met in fear.
We did not share
what we both knew.
Death whispered near.

I’m sorry she said,
as if she caused this,
had cruelly wished a curse
upon me, her caregiver.

In that second my heart split,
ripped raw by a mean and jagged knife.
My stronger, youthful arms reached out,
fiercely wrapped around her bony frame.

And there we paused
in a deep, strange embrace.
Resting, loving, weeping
for all things left unsaid.

Read Full Post »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.