Sunday, May 13, 2007

What I Learned From My Mother

Today my mom invited someone over to our Mother's Day celebration. Without her invitation, this person would have spent the day alone. This got me thinking about how I learned that sort of thing from her. I learned how even if you are just stopping by to pick someone up, if you walk into our house at Christmas time, you get a gift. I learned how to pay attention to what people love but never get for themselves, and how they take their coffee so you are prepared if you ever need to get them a cup.
In light of recent events, I found this poem that highlights the things my mom taught me.

What I Learned From My Mother
Julia Kasdorf
I learned from my mother how to love
the living, to have plenty of vases on hand
in case you have to rush to the hospital
with peonies cut from the lawn, black ants
still stuck to the buds. I learned to save jars
large enough to hold fruit salad for a whole
grieving household, to cube home-canned pears
and peaches, to slice through maroon grape skins
and flick out the sexual seeds with a knife point.
I learned to attend viewings even if I didn't know
the deceased, to press the moist hands
of the living, to look into their eyes and offer
sympathy, as though I understood loss even then.
I learned that whatever we say means nothing,
what anyone will remember is that we came.
I learned to believe I had the power to ease
awful pains materially like an angel.
Like a doctor, I learned to create
from another's suffering my own usefulness, and once
you know how to do this, you can never refuse.
To every house you enter you must offer
healing: a chocolate cake you baked yourself,
the blessing of your voice, your chaste touch.

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