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Wilma, With Love

© Jo Hewitt THE TEAL MANGO, 2016

With Love, Wilma

With Love, Wilma

This past spring, in the 3rd month of the year, it was the 3rd anniversary of my mother’s death 3 days short of her 97th birthday, 3 years short of her hundredth.

Over the years I had asked my mother things about her life. Evidently I did not ask enough or I have forgotten; questions do arise. I think, “Oh, I’ll ask Mom.” But it is too late. She had shared the events of her life, facts and observations of the facts. But I wanted to know what she thought and more importantly, what she felt. One time on a road trip I asked her some things. She relayed facts of events. When I pressed her for what she thought and what she felt in those moments of her life, she stopped talking to me, turned her head and stared off to a vacant horizon. She either wouldn’t or couldn’t tell me what she felt.  One of the few things she shared was when I asked if at some point she became ill, in a vegetative state, what  decision she would like me to make for her.

Starting off as a sickly baby, she had her share of hardship. I don’t think I could have gone through what she went through: 11 children, childhood diseases at a time when one suffered through and prayed no one died, sewing their clothing, canning their food in addition to a full time job teaching. Money struggles and a lack of robust health, and the death of three of her children before her own were added to that. The heart and soul of a naturalist and artist, a free spirit, buried beneath the heap of the demands of life, struggling for air. I think of her as a marathon runner. Maybe she didn’t have the luxury of thinking or feeling, but had to focus: one foot, then the next, to keep on going.

Still I wonder. I want to know. Still.

It’s too late. She will never tell.

 

Wilma With Love

 

Oh Weakened Wilma!

Yellow, puny, sickly baby, small.

Did they cuddle you, love you, 

Give you all?

Not enough mother’s milk for you to feed.

Not enough to meet your need.

Give her the summer milk they said.

Might as well, as well she’s dead.

Oh Weakened Wilma, what did you think? What did you feel?

It’s too late. You never will tell.

 

Oh Wistful Wilma!

Did you find delight of dew on naked feet?

Did you run through meadows 

Or fields of corn

To catch the sky above 

You and flowers of the same earth born?

Did you greet the sun of morn

Or the stars of night?

Did your heart mourn the fall of leaves

Or autumn birds in flight?

Hay loft above, straw below,

Did you day dream, hay dreams

To a bovine low?

Oh Wistful Wilma, what did you think? What did you feel?

It’s too late. You never will tell.

 

Oh Wondering Wilma!

From open fields to opening your mind,

Beginning at home, then off to school  to learn.

What will you find?

A new love, for knowledge, you yearn.

This drive, this quest, a thirst, your soul burns.

Science, nature, Latin, literature, art.

Elementary, high school, to university.

Valedictorian. Your hallmark. 

Valē. Embark!

Oh Wondering Wilma, what did you think? What did you feel?

It’s too late. You never will tell.

 

Oh Winsome Wilma,

In this new, college town place

Did you know how much your world changed,

How much your life would be re-arranged?

Someone would not see a plain Wilma Jane face,

But a smile to beguile and rile

A force that would your past erase.

Unintended, unexpressed flirt.

Could you understand love,

Its joys, its hurt?

Oh Winsome Wilma, what did you think? What did you feel?

It’s too late. You never will tell.

 

Oh Wandering Wilma,

What was this love, this vow? 

Was it somehow

A  deal with the devil?

Constant upheaval.

Far from your family home.

Another year, another town, another house, another baby-child,

Love’s illusions defiled?

Your emotions involute, to a dark inner alone.

Oh Wandering Wilma, what did you think? What did you feel?

It’s too late. You never will tell.

 

Oh Wearied Wilma

Moving mouths and moving trucks or vans

Packing, unpacking, reaching, empty hands.

Sugar, eggs, milk shortage.

Ration.

Chipped dry beef gravy

Or hash on 

White bread.

Stomachs grumble to sleep in cold bed.

Not really enough to eat.

Worn out shoes or no shoed feet.

One house with floor of ice

On winter days and winter nights.

Children sick, was it five or six?

Diseases, was it four or more?

Diapers and vomit on beds and floor to clean.

Two weeks of quarantine,

With you to care, just you alone.

Tired, exhausted to the bone.

Oh Wearied Wilma, what did you think? What did you feel?

It’s too late. You never will tell.

 

Oh Widowed Wilma

You are at no one’s beck and call.

There is no one there. At all.

After years of giving your life time blood

To children, dying son, dying husband

Can you answer to one, your heart, instead.

Is it time to pick up brush and pen,

to pick up palette and paint,

Begin again?

Orange, red, gold.

Splattering autumn pigment so bold.

Wispy fingers of dawn clouds so faint,

A trace of light, a trace of your soul.

Oh Widowed Wilma, what did you think? What did you feel?

It’s too late. You never will tell.

 

Oh Waning Wilma,

Did the days begin to run one into the other?

Did monotonous time becomes your new master?

Slowly sucking the flesh of your days,

Faster and faster?

Did your heart running free

Stop, look back to see

The empty place,

The missing arms, the missing face,

The voice, words that at times were gruff?

The clock tick-ticking behind the chimes. 

Was it perhaps enough? Was it time?

Oh Waning Wilma, what did you think? What did you feel?

It’s too late. You never will tell.

 

Oh Waiting Wilma,

What will your heaven be?

What will your heart yield?

Is it the rose fingers of dawn

bejeweled with lingering stars of night?

Is it golden blue sky 

over purple drenched field

From which the winter crow takes flight?

What did death’s summon bring?

Did souls with loving arms around you ring?

Oh so many things I should have asked

before your invitation to death’s dance,

Before the adorning, death’s sunken mask.

Now I could not ask. I could only sing

and hold you, for this transitioning.

A silent wail,

I felt the rift in Heaven that morning night.

Your winter’s birds taking spring flight,

Lifting the veil. 

Oh Waiting Wilma,

What did you see?

What did you feel?

It is too late. You never will tell.

 

Girl With Kittens In Berry Basket. By Wilma J. Russell circa 1930

Girl With Kittens In Berry Basket.
By Wilma J. Russell circa 1930

 

 

 

Haiku and Loku Days-Fledgling-Transcendence of a Mother’s Love

© Jo Hewitt THE TEAL MANGO, 2013

The SSB Drever and I chanced a walk today between sprinkles and threats of storms. We traveled along familiar paths. We saw people planting flowers and attending gardens, people sharing luncheons and coffee, a mother patiently on the sidelines while her daughter practiced, learning to ride her bicycle. People were out and about enjoying the life that the refreshing air of spring brings. New beginnings, hope, a fresh outlook.

But at one point on the walk, I just stopped; tears welled up in me. Before me on the pavers was the body of a baby bird, its eyes closed, its body still naked, bereft of the feathers that would allow it to soar. It had landed in a somewhat contorted position with one wing twisted, pointing up toward the sky, the wind morbidly causing a slight flutter, belying a false sense of the hope of the resurgence of life . I looked up into the little crab apple tree to see the mother robin just sitting there, in the nest, not moving, barely blinking, keeping vigilance over the body of her baby child. How utterly horrible to have your baby taken from you to the realm of death. I stood for awhile to mourn with her, I cried the tears she could not.

I thought of my own children. I thought of the love that mothers give and the torment that mothers could endure in the day to day vigilance in the caring and rearing of their children in normal life let alone the horror of having them destroyed before you from war or starvation or from so many other atrocities.

I thought of my mother and her death only two months ago, of her last week of life, her body pale, her bareness, bareness of animation of her soul, an occasional movement of a finger or wrist, not unlike the death flutter of the dead baby bird. But her eyes were open and in them I could see the excruciating pain of dying. I thought of all the sacrifices she had made for all of us, of all the times a little part of her died.

I feel in someways we are all fledglings at any stage of life-or death. I am still a fledgling, not quite able to soar. Every stage of life requires the fearlessness of spirit to take flight. There are days I just don’t have it. I can no longer look to a nest for support, my mother hovering by. How many times in these two months have I thought, “Oh, I’ll call Mom.” But I can’t.  My children will always be my fledging babies. I stand back and watch them heading into the winds of the different stages of life. I am happy that they seem to be stronger and can fly higher than I could ever dream.

Mother child mother child mother child-the generations become one-one continuous cycle of life and love, of giving love and yearning for love. A mother’s love, no matter what form, bird or human, is an incarnation of the life force-love.

.

Fledgling-Transcendence of a Mother’s love

 
 

Robin


Silent spring mourning,
 
Blind, bare, broken winged fledgling,                                
Dying flutter tears.                                                                                                          
                                                                    
 
 
 

Haiku and Loku Days-The Heart Beat

..."© Jo Hewitt THE TEAL MANGO, 2012

To find and live in the harmony of authentic love-is that the ultimate goal? How many of us have not taken up the quest, at some point or other in our lives to find the perfect love and love relationship with another, or our own soul, or  the unknowable itself.  Perhaps whether we recognize it or not, we are probably on at least one of those paths at any given time in our lives -or even all three.  Though the paths may appear to be different, in love there is a convergence; ultimately love is one.

How much time and how much of our resources does any of us spend in search of our one true love in this life? How many times have we thought we found love in and with another, but later experienced a heart wrenching betrayal.  The wailing pain of the heart can be excruciating and the scars long lived and deep.  How could any one hurt another so?

Do we remember to give our own soul the same love and attention, the care and nurturing that it needs? Do we give it as least as much as had been spent on those temporal relationships? Are we true to our souls? Or do they wail in an eternal night from broken hearts and betrayal?

And is there an ultimate betrayal?  Have we been negligent in the search for and love for and with the essence of and beyond the soul? Is there an essential wailing in  the universe of creation? “…Many a dawn hath the breeze of My loving-kindness wafted over thee and found thee upon the bed of heedlessness fast asleep. Bewailing then thy plight it returned whence it came. ”

Authentic love, true love-are we the betrayed or the betrayers? Are our words in harmony with our deeds and our being? Ah, the heart and the paths of  love…

The Heart Beat.

 
You said you love me.
Yet your heart beat talks and walks
 With another’s words.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Severine by Louis Weldon Hawkins

Tales from The Teal Mango: A Love Story

I know someone…

Who knows someone who knows someone.  She  told me a story.

Once upon a time, as all stories about life are and begin, there was girl who had a brother who had a friend.  The brother and his friend had been in the service together remaining friends throughout their adult lives. But this story isn’t about them.

It is about maybe, a moment, years ago when the brother came home one weekend to visit his family on leave from the military, bringing his friend with him.  They started from the base early one Saturday morning to make the 17 hour drive, arriving late that night.  They left the following morning. But in that short amount of time, something eternal happened.  A boy met a girl and a girl met a boy.  No words were spoken but in the realm without words all had been said.

She told her brother that she was interested in his friend and to please let him know it would be okay to write to her. His friend told him that he was interested in his sister and to please let her know that he would like to write to her and  ask if it would be okay.  But like so many times in life, the moment comes and it goes and words that probably should be spoken are not.

Life goes on and even though some things change others do not.  High school is a time of social ritual,  and feelings, and that first date, of rides and roses and then rape.   Her father confronted her: How could she do this to him, her father. He was in the public eye. She would have to marry  her attacker and in his bed lie.  The abuse continued. One child became two, then three, then four. The abuse continued, then one child more.

At some point he abandoned her to poverty, left her on her own to feed, clothe and rear those children. And, at this point it doesn’t sound much like a love story.  But it is. It is now a story about her love for her children- the jobs she took that destroyed her health, the humiliation, and even derogatory comments from her own parents. Her pain and silent cry, re-occurring thoughts of suicide, all buried in the sleep of exhaustion in an unending darkness.

Finally the fifth child was through school and had been accepted at a college in another state hours away. She took her daughter there. Now it just so happened that  in that state lived another of her siblings, a sister, who invited her to visit, to spend the night.  After all it had been a long drive on a very long road.

This sister had also known the brother’s friend. He too had gone through life as many people do- matrimony and acrimony, bitterness  and blame,  marriage and divorce, so much the same. Interestingly, he had been invited for dinner the same weekend, driving another long road from another state to attend.

After that, she returned home.  But she made another trip- to visit him. And then she returned home again, one more time, to pack up the past to return home to her future.  He had told that if he had known she was  with child all those years ago, he would have married her and raised the child as his own. He loved her, and continued to love her. And she loved him. They lived a simple life with love for each other and for the children and for all the cats and dogs and living creatures around them that needed love.

She was with him this spring and this summer by his side with her love as he battled cancer.

He returned his love for her over and again trying to win. Love can save you from so many things, but not  from the end.

And those children returned that love over and over and again this year to be with her as she scattered his ashes over the bay.

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