On my parents anniversary

Come on, Momma.

I try to remember to tell how pretty you look every time I see you,
Since Daddy isn’t here to say it every morning like he used to.

You look elegant, dressed in stylish black,
not too much color for you these days.

We’re here for our ritual visit of the week,
Your joy in the kids the only smile I see anymore,
Even though it never really reaches your eyes.

So brave and valiant,
Standing tall, heart in tatters
Fragile little lady,
now that half your soul is gone.

You cook too much, and fuss about matters
Large and small.
You cling to the things in this world
With fierce disinterest, trying to make the fabric whole.

I know that my family isn’t enough to fill
The hole were your heart once was
You speak of Daddy in the present tense
‘cause you still talk to him every day.

So come on, Mamma, we need to go to the store
And make sure there’s enough potatoes for the fries you insist on
Making from scratch for your grandkids.

Let’s meet next week at the mall when you’re in town
And you can help me choose baby shoes for Easter,
We’ll have lunch and I’ll tell stories to make you laugh.
You’ll pretend when you should for my sake,
Birthdays, holidays, Mothers Day bittersweet.

I love the woman you try to be still,
Cause I know it’s for my sake you try at all.

Come on, Mamma, stay with me just a little longer,
Until seeing your pain hurts more than never seeing you again,
Before you fly back to your other half,
Your true joy, calling to you every moment,
Yearning for reunion.

My Big Sister

As some of you already know from Facebook, my older sister has finally succumbed to her long battle with Breast Cancer. When we were growing up, she was always the cool one, the beautiful one, the person I wanted to impress the most. Unlike most older sibs, she was always patient with me. Well, as patient as someone seven years older could be. She took me to drive in movies when Disney played, she let me watch her get dressed for dates, she bribed me to not tell Mom and Dad when she had friends in the basement playroom while she was babysitting me. She stole my Nancy Drew books while I slept and made fun of them with her best friend,(I vividly remember asking my Mom what a Lesbian was, and how it was possible for the Drew's housekeeper, Hannah Gruen, could have a relationship with both Nancy and her father? ) I was the pesky 8 year old who blew Paula's cover with the Dock Master at our Country Club one summer, when he believed my sister was 18, instead of the 15 she really was. After I grew up past 18, we started to drift apart. Bad feelings were exacerbated. My role of peacekeeper between Mom and Paula deteriorated, finally there was nothing left between us, but a bitter hatred on her part I never understood. I tried so hard to reconcile, Paula with Mom before Mom died, Paula and myself long before then, to no avail at all. I thought we had a rapprochement when Paula was first diagnosed with Breast Cancer, I tried to support her while trying to also support my deeply bereaved Mom, but I found after Mom died that she had never felt anything more than anger and hatred towards me. After my Mom's death, she seemed to transfer all of her anger at our Mom to me. In therapy I finally realized that all I could do was reach out, regardless of the rebuff, then stop. The rest was out of my hands. After a while, I started to look through the Social Security Death Index, just to find out if she was still ok. If I didn't find her, I knew she was still alive. After a few years, I mostly stopped that, as it made feel ghoulish to look. Last night, I was doing some genealogy research online, after I found some new information in storage about my Dad's side of the family. Almost out of habit, I ran my regular search, and found my sister died on the 20th of April this year. It's hard to appreciate the valiant nature of her anger and strength, at the Cancer, at me, but I can see Paula's indomitable spirit in these things, as well as so many other aspects of her life. She loved her boys fiercely, fought for them relentlessly, struggled to make a life for the three of them after her husband's abandonment, following her diagnosis with Graves disease in the early 90's. She attacked her stage 4 breast cancer after she was diagnosed in 2002 with the same fervor that she fought to provide for and protect her sons. In the end, perhaps she was more sinned against, than sinned herself, it was just hard to remember that while she was tearing strips off your ego. I remember my big sister, who wielded the phrase 'no offense' with the skill of a surgeon swinging a claw hammer. "No offense, but your feet smell." "No offense, but you really need to lose some weight before wear white jeans." We learned young to fear those two words! She didn't get jokes, I spent a large part of my youth thinking she pretended so I could 'explain' jokes to her. Puns and sardonic humor escaped her, but she had a wacky appreciation of slapstick. She was so tender hearted she couldn't bear to see movies in theatres because she felt so strongly for the characters. She could be sweet, and so fiercely loyal to those she loved. I'll always remember my big sister who protected me from our brothers, who held me when the grown ups were fighting, who beat up some kids after they hit me at school. I'll mourn the beautiful brown haired girl who loved sailing with me, took me swimming at Pebble Beach, so we could swim to the raft and wash our hair. I'll miss and mourn the talented big sister who inspired me to learn to play gutar, and wrote songs with her best friend Liz. We never gave our Dad more joy than when we would play and sing together for the family. So this weekend I'll go to church, and light a candle for the girl who helped raise me, and the woman who fought with such passion and strength. The world is a colder, darker place without her.