Exploring the poetry of everyday life

Saga of an Odd Mom

Once upon a time, I was born in Houston, Texas. We lived a Saturday Evening Post – Reader’s Digest sort of existence in a residential area of the city. When I was ten years old my dad decided he wanted to be a farmer and moved us to Greenwood, Mississippi where a friend of my mother’s who had been her Matron of Honor in their wedding lived.

The Mississippi Delta was an eye-opening world for me. It was a William Faulkner – Carson McCullers version of the deep South with a hint of Margaret Mitchell thrown in. My female friends and I pulled in our belts to have a seventeen-inch waist like Scarlett O’Hara. I read Gone With the Wind religiously every three years. People prided themselves on being eccentric and worldly-wise. One of my parents’ friends who lived on a cotton plantation in a neighboring county was the only subscriber of the Wall Street Journal in the entire county. My parents found a place for themselves on the fringes of society. My friends were so unusual I felt the only thing outstanding about me was that I was perfectly ordinary. I also made good grades and was declared the “Most Intellectual Girl” my Senior year in high school.

My college years passed and phased into marriage and family. That was the expected order of things. In college I was an English major, continuing my life-long love of reading. I married my childhood sweetheart – though no fireworks lit up the sky. I gave birth to three sons. Being Mom is the center and soul of my life.

Years passed. My sons began to engage life on their terms. I found space to have my own dreams and allow myself to follow them. God had long been an important part of my being. However, I felt something was lacking in the church I belonged to. I embarked on what I called “my conscious spiritual pilgrimage”. A Pastor at the church told me of a retreat center that offered an amazing new way of bible study. It transformed my life. I decided to study at a theological seminary with the intention of becoming an ordained minister. I thanked the excellent student I once was and upon whose shoulders I now stood. I never doubted I would accomplish my goals. I did. I became Rev.Mom.

I celebrated my fiftieth birthday while I was in seminary. My faculty advisor asked what I wanted to do now that I was fifty. I answered “Become an original”. I wanted to quit living up to what I thought was expected of me. I wanted my “no’s” to mean “no” and my “yes’es”, yes. Several years later, after parting from my childhood sweetheart husband I followed my bliss to Chicago to marry another class mate from Greenwood whom I had run into at our 40th High School reunion.

My second husband and I traveled – a lot. We were in Denver at the Naropa Institute when I heard the poet David Whyte read some lines of his poetry. “Sometimes everything has to be enscribed across the heavens so you can find the one line already written inside you.” The “small, bright and indescribable wedge of freedom in your own heart.” The original of me!

Again I moved on from marriage and moved back to Cleveland where I had lived with my first husband. Two of our three sons live here with their families. I did not want to get to the end of my life without living close to my grandchildren. I chose not to end life as a bitter old woman.

Five years ago one of my sons suggested I start a blog. My first theme was the David Whyte quote and a major category was Becoming an Original. I was still on that path. And then a light bulb blazed.

Last Sunday I invited my sons and their families to join me for a local production of Godspell held in my church’s basement and then pizza at my apartment afterwards. In conversation around the table the question of the dates of their dad’s and my birthdays arose. One is on the eighth of February and the other the ninth of December. They had just missed their dad’s because of the confusion. My oldest son Bob said he had a way to remember – his dad’s is the even date 8 because he is sort of square. Mine is the odd date 9 because I am odd. I pondered his meaning for two days and then asked him in what way am I odd. He replied that he knew his mom was odd a long time ago. Other mothers didn’t go to a mountain retreat center that the Appalachian Trail runs through and certainly not to Chicago to attend seminary once a quarter for five years. And then I got it. Odd in his eyes is not a bad thing. There is nothing like your child’s “getting” you. I am on top of the world. It’s like finding the bluebird of happiness in my own backyard. I am even forgiving myself for not being a typical grandmother. As I consider how my sons’ lives unspool I realize that I passed on some of my oddness to them, and even to my grandchildren.


Haiku: Fare Forward

Year draws to a close
Peer ahead into unknown
Dreams for the asking

Love, peace, forgiveness
Beyond our imagining
Free flowing justice

Harvest of riches
Strive for the impossible
Believe, be surprised

In Response to the Daily Prompt: Extravagant


Haiku: Mixed Blessings

My friend died last week
Departure unexpected
Legacy breathes on

Glory and heartbreak
Alike make new beginnings
Odd gifts to embrace

Daily Prompt – Expect


Saying Goodbye

Belle died at noon on Saturday
She left in peace with family around
Her ninety-seven years a testament
To life well lived and loved.
A friend to us who knew her well
She left a vacancy not soon filled

This morning the swimming pool is blue
Sun and fair skies foretell a lovely day.
Belle loved the pool in Summer
And sunning on the patio in Autumn
When falling leaves transformed the color scheme
Before Winter sent Belle back inside.

We played our Scrabble-like word game Royalty
By the pool or in the Party Room upstairs
Belle was the queen who beat us all
At forming words some of her own creation
She seemed to pull letters out of nowhere
To fashion words sometimes bizarre.

Belle is gone and yet I see her everywhere
Dressed in her Thriftique classy clothes
Speaking out to bring justice to the world
Celebrating Seder with generations of her family
Including us as her adopted relatives
Teaching us the ropes to vote absentee

Belle has been freed from suffering.
It was a grief to see her bowed so low
My heart rises remembering the wonder
Of the very special person that Belle was
Now living on in vibrant memories.
I did not know loss could produce such gain.


Legacies Passed Upward

Once upon a time I was mother of three sons
Fathers now who between them have four more
And two young daughters.
I never gave a thought to reaping
After youthful sowing bore its fruits.
Grandmothers receive gifts
Bounty never dreamed of.

One son recently shared the story
How heĀ  taught his son to shave.
Another son passed on the news
Son’s camp counselor summer job
Included learning leadership
Sharp skills to serve him well
In the wider world one day.

Two younger sons, cousins
Surprise us all with expertise
Creative eyes see like engineers.
Another son, the one who shaves
Is showing signs as a musician
Following his father’s dreams.
The little girls still lovely mysteries.

Mothers blessed become grandmothers.
A further generation bearing treasures
Returns its priceless gifts to me.
I watch my sons now fathers
Shape their children lovingly
Guiding them into a future
Unrevealed but which offers hope.


Haiku: Respite in Time of Strife

Living in the now
Time of mind and memory
Not how clock tells time

Moment sweet to breathe
Feel the heartbeat of the earth
Sense deep wells within

This is nature’s gift
Peace, tranquility abide
Feathered hope also.


Haiku: Redeeming Words

Depression’s gray clouds
Hovering weight overhead
Felled with word’s penning

Precious beyond words
The Word Press community
We can be healers

Hopeful, despairing
Angry, judging, lamenting
Words written freely

Speak into hearing
Allay fears for grim future
We are not alone.


Haiku: Un-Frenzied

Time to take a break
Income tax and travel done
Day belongs to me

Sinking into peace
Precious gift a golden glow
Living in the now


Journey to Israel: New Sights and a Back Story

After our morning at Masada we climbed back on the bus and headed to the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea is 1,295 ft. below sea level, the lowest point on earth. And you can not sink in its salty water. I put on my bathing suit and waded in until the water was neck-deep hoping to wash the dust of Masada off. I let my feet rise and floated effortlessly. It was lovely. I came out of the water minus some of the dust but with my body covered in salt. After a quick shower I was ready to move on.

Our next stop was Jericho, located in the Judean wilderness. Some say it is 10,000 years old, the oldest city on earth. The old city and its walls which “came tumbling down” have been excavated. A fact of archaeology is that ancient places have many layers of soil deposited above them and to see very old cities you have to look down. It was like looking down a deep well and imagining a once-inhabited ghost city at the bottom.

I am seeing my journey to Israel with new eyes. I’m looking backward and finding fresh perspectives on a trip I took forty-three years ago. I did not keep a daily journal and no longer have the photo slides my husband took of our trip. After I returned from Israel I put together a slide show for my church. On two-and-a-half pages of narrow-ruled yellow legal pad paper I wrote (in long-hand) a commentary for the slide show. I have these pages before me now. The words are my guide for the stories I’m writing for my blog. The more I write the more I remember. I can visualize sights I haven’t thought about in years. I’ve forgotten some dates and facts about Israel but that is what Google is for. So much has changed for me and for Israel but words retain their power to stir my imagination and communicate.



Imagine dawn sky dressed in pink-ribboned clouds
Trees green-leaved in summer
Changing colors for autumn
Sobered by stillness of bare-branched winter
Chilling cold and deep silence.

Imagine a mother of sons and grandchildren
Heart filled with wonder, love, joy
And trepidation
World is near changing
Beyond recognition.

Imagine aging a worthy challenge
Rich adventures and exploring
Forge wisdom a gift
Hard-won and enduring
Unknown roads lie ahead

But for today the sun is shining
Golden hours to seize and embrace.
Shadows, too, can be lovely
I’ll plumb them tomorrow.
Translating my life into poems.