Monday, March 7, 2011

If She Had Died in Her 80's - Addendum

A few years ago my mother gave me her mother's Bible. She used this Bible for a long time, but eventually started using a different one. Tucked in the leaves I found the following "poem" that she identified with. All those years that I was feeling emotionally estranged from my mother, she had her own emotional deficits. She spent 35 years being a widow. 35 long, lonely years. Sometimes my heart breaks at the lost years when I could have done a better job at alleviating that loneliness. If only I had "broken the barrier" years earlier.....

Minnie Remembers

by Donna Swanson


My hands are old.

I’ve never said that out loud before,

but they are.

I was so proud of them once.

They were soft

like the velvet smoothness

of a firm ripe peach.

Now the softness is

like worn-out sheets

or withered leaves.

When did these slender,

graceful hands

become gnarled, shrunken?

When, God?

They lie here in my lap,

naked reminders

of the rest of this old body

that has served me too well.

How long has it been

since someone touched me?

Twenty years?

Twenty years I’ve been a widow.


Smiled at.

But never touched.

Never held close to another body.

Never held so close and warm

that loneliness was blotted out.

I remember

how my Mother used to hold me,


When I was hurt in spirit or flesh

she would gather me close,

stroke my silky hair and caress

my back with her warm hands.

Oh, God, I’m so lonely!

I remember the first boy

who ever kissed me.

We were both so new at that.

The taste of young lips

and popcorn,

the feeling deep inside

of mysteries to come.

I remember Hank and the babies.

How can I remember them

put together?

Out of the fumbling,

awkward attempts of new lovers

came the babies.

And as they grew, so did our love.

And, God, Hank didn’t seem to care

if my body thickened

and faded a little.

He still loved it.

And touched it.

And we didn’t mind

if we were no longer


And the children hugged me a lot.

Oh, God, I’m lonely!

Why didn’t we raise the kids to be

silly and affectionate

as well as dignified and proper?

You see, they do their duty.

They drive up in their fine cars.

They come to my room

to pay their respects.

They chatter brightly

and reminisce.

But they don’t touch me.

They call me “Mom” or “Mother”

or “Grandma.”

Never Minnie.

My mother called me Minnie.

And my friends.

Hank called me Minnie, too.

But they’re gone.

And so is Minnie.

Only Grandma is here.

And, God! she’s lonely!

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