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Mothers Day Memories


You must learn to tie your shoes!

I remember the injunction.

I didn’t know that I was too young

But the promise of a toy truck for Christmas

Was incentive enough.

Every little boy dreams of having a truck.

Two strings were tied to the bedpost.

It must be a proper bow

With rabbit ears entwined;

No tangle or Gordian knot

That might untie and trip me in a race.



You must learn to tie your shoes!

I did not know why until later;

Mother would die soon.

And I must be ready to care for myself.

She taught me to pray in two languages

While confident that God knows every tongue.

And then she died.



But not before she taught me

To tie my shoes and do chores

And to love all colors of the rainbow

And flowers, and imagination.

And then she died.



But not before she taught me to work hard

Picking Thompson seedless grapes

Spreading them on paper trays

In the blazing summer sun,

And cutting peaches and apricots

With curved beak knives

Laying the bleeding halves

In rows for curing in sulfur smoke,

And packing nectarines in shipping boxes

Faster than anyone else

Always placing the ripe colored tips

Facing upward to entice buyers.

And then she died.



But not before I went to college

Where I read books and heard music

She had only dreamed of

And saw mountains and rivers

Cathedrals and palaces

She had only seen in illustrated books.

And then she died.



But not before she taught me

How to love a marriage partner

With pliable determination

Giving but never giving up

For more than half a century.

And then she died.



But not before she taught me

How to bury children who die

And how to train children who live

And how to love with discipline

And how to encourage with honesty,

How to believe while wondering.

And then she died.



But not before she taught me

How to be gracious in suffering,

How to suffer being cured,

How to loose without losing,

How to live eighty years with joy.

And then she died.



But lives forever in my heart

Every time I tie my shoes.

--Larry W., Adult