Dammit. Writing about my mother again. That’s her-Corona- in the middle. I’ve always thought we looked entirely unalike but can see a resemblance in this photo taken back in the days of ashtrays and doilies. Our memory plays tricks but there are clues. The place is Winnipeg on the occasion of my sister Donna’s baptism. I remember these lovely Anishinabe women, wish I could recall their names. As the poem states, my gregarious mother had few friends as we never stayed in one place for more than a few years. We appear well-cared for. She loved to do our hair and dress us up. This was early in her marriage. My mother could be tender, but mostly, tough. She had to be.
THE FIRST TIME MY MOTHER CRIED
In front of me. That I recall. She cried
for her best hen-party gal pal Sharon.
The pair often cackled together.
Mom had few friends, we moved so often
and Sharon was instantly a sister sort.
My sweet, six year old bum
was on the middle swing
when Mom emerged from the house,
apron clad, perpetual tea towel
resting on her shoulder,
which came in handy as you will see.
Sadness brought out the nurse in her,
sadness aroused tenderness.
Memory evaluations can be dodgy,
so many lost but his one remains.
Weeping, she handed over half an apple.
I looked down.
A tear plashed onto the snowy flesh.
Mine. Mom, why are you crying?
At last, she told me.
Sharon died in a car crash.
Is there a more banal fate
than dying in a car crash?
I’ve nearly died in a car crash
on three occasions.
What kind of fool am I?
A practically-raised-in-a-car fool.
Car rides equalled happiness;
new shoes or a hike in the woods,
laughing all the way.
She dried my cheeks
with the perpetual tea towel.
Toward the end my mother cried
more than cackled
and there was never a tea towel handy.
Not so perpetual after all.