A Poem for Mary and Me

(It was ten years ago today that my mother died.  She was and

 remains the most authentic person I have ever known.)

The photo is black and white.

I’m probably 7 years old, crying with a plate of over-cooked squash in front of me.

You are holding a cigarette and a mixed drink.

Thin threads of smoke exit your mouth like long strands of cotton candy.

Your hand holds the cigarette the way movie stars did back then, between index finger and middle finger, wrist slightly cocked.

This was my life.

This was your life.

This is how it was.

I thought the stage was set.

It was 1970 when the drinks and the cigarettes exited stage left,

and you appeared.

Not long after, your hair, once as red as the box it came in was cut, the lipstick on your mouth a softer shade of red and the bloat of too much drink, exited stage right

and you appeared.

5:00 a.m.  I am just 10 years old, when the screen door slams.

And you are gone.

You return one hour later, the sweat pouring off your skin, the flush of your cheeks, the radiant face of the mother I had prayed for came home.

I will never know why you ran.

Ran  for so many years from the woman  you are.

To finally run home to yourself, to me, to us.

I just know that I am grateful.

Ten years ago your body died.

Today you live here

In my daughter’s laugh, my son’s tender ways and in the quiet of this early morning.

A gentle reminder of why I run.

Why I am.

Why it all matters.

8 thoughts on “A Poem for Mary and Me

  1. I love this poem! It is a reminder of my childhood and of my mother……she died 10 years ago this coming May14th from the cancer that comes after the curling smoke of the cigarette. May we continue to honor the mothers that taught us so much….sometimes what not to do. My children have pledged not to smoke and to lead a healthy lifestyle in honor of their grandma whom lived in an era where they knew no better.

    Peace to you today.

  2. THANK YOU Molly for sharing this awesome intimate poem. Beautifully written and spoken. Thanks for your transparency. Even though I did not know your Mom, I thank her for helping to mold you into who you are- I am sure she was an awesome woman because she has an awesome daughter. Molly, thanks for all you do and for being the inspirational You!

  3. so beautiful Molly… one of the greatest gifts is getting your parent back…and after they have stood up in grace and broken the chain, that gift becomes a legacy to all those who come after.. thank you for sharing your mom with us.

  4. thank you for sharing this… one of the greatest gifts is getting your parent back… and when that parent has the grace and strength to stand up (or run!) and break the chain, the legacy of that courage changes the path for so many.
    your mom sounds amazing. you are her legacy and so are your kids. And with her courage she gave a gift to hundreds of thousands of girls.

  5. I miss her, too, Molly. The absence is softer now yet it remains as a tender reminder of how lucky I am to have her as my mom. I wrote about her today on my blog, too….our hearts entrained as is often the case

    Love you Sis,

  6. Molly, I remember your mother well. such a gentle genuine soul. I only wish I could see my own mother transform as yours did. I hope my children can say this about me some day!

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