Poems by Patricia Keough Wilson


Mother's Day Tea

Patricia J. Keough-Wilson

May 2009


I went to a tea at church honoring mothers
the day before Mother’s Day.

I almost did not go.
It seemed too hard this first Mother’s Day without my mom.

The heavy grief-weight lodged somewhere in me;
the tears too eager to spill.

I cannot do this, I kept thinking,
even as I stood in my closet
scanning dresses.

My hand reached out
as if it had a will of its own
to select a pink flowered spring frock,
 perfect for a ladies’ tea.

I lifted my wrist to my husband
to clasp the pearl bracelet
bought by my eldest daughter
on one of her Hawaiian trips.

I allowed myself a selfish thought,
that wish to just once walk on a beach in Hawaii
with that daughter.
But the bracelet spoke remembering
and I let my fingertips draw comfort by pearl tracing.

Oval costume pearl earrings reminded me of my second daughter.
I gave that daughter a matching pair
and I remember them on her ears
as she dressed for some event.

I studied my ears in the mirror
 and could almost see her smile,
hear her loved voice.

I had thought about writing my children
and telling them that the only gift
I long for is time with them.
Not shared time, not distracted time,
not time grudgingly given, not time squeezed in
betwixt and between but an oasis of time,
a memory made to comfort me in those moments
of missing them, of hungering for the sight and sound of them.
But their time is precious and hard to freely give.
And I understand that.

I reached into my jewelry drawer of rings
and slid on my mom’s Mother’s Day ring,
 meant to be buried with her,
taking the place of her engagement diamond ring
given to me.

But in that time of tears and sorrow,
of family gathered to weep and to laugh,
to give and get comfort,
to remember, to renew family bonds,
we forgot to put her Mother’s Day ring
on her gnarly, naked ring finger.
So now I have both rings--but no mom.
And I cannot remember which year we three siblings
shared in the planning and cost of that ring
for a Mother’s Day gift.

As my mother slowly left us,
inch by inch, second by second,
she would plaintively ask
if she had been a good mother.
I should have told her
that distinction did not matter.
I know that I would not have traded her
for any other mom
and that was what mattered.
So I go to the Mother’s Day tea,
without a mom to bring, without grown daughters or
treasured granddaughters.
I go alone and slightly lonely.
I go in memory of my mom.
I go because I have granddaughters
who love the ritual of tea parties.
I sit with friends and sip tea
and as we chatter,
my heart remembers my mom,
alive last Mother’s Day, but no longer.
I miss my tradition of selecting a gift and card
to send her, of calling her and wishing her a Happy Mother’s Day,
 of hearing how her day had gone,
of how many grandchildren phoned or stopped by,
or how my brother and wife honored her.
I have to relearn how to do the annual Mother’s Day thing.
So I dressed up and sipped tea at a festive table
with friends while thinking about my mom,
my daughters, and my granddaughters.

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