MEMORIES OF MOTHER
Travis Elizabeth Donald
I looked through a four-paned window
One cold and lifeless day.
And wept for Mother-a widow
Whose life was ebbing away.
My heart hung low and saddened
As death-like and wan she lay.
Oh, could it have been gladdened
With hope—There wasn’t a ray.
Her brow was so hot with fever
Her hands so cold and numb—
I forever and ever can see her
As she waited for Death to come.
He was on his way. She knew it
And patiently waited his call.
Dear Mother, how could you do it?
His visit has ended all.
You had your garments all ready,
All washed and spotless as snow.
You waited with a courage so steady
Till your time should come to go.
Mother, I was waiting with you
But little O, did I suppose
That death would call upon you—
That your life on earth would close.
Tis done! Tis done! We’ve seen it
And we’ve wept a bitter moan
For we can not now undo it
So, we are left alone.
But Mother, we see in Heaven
A brighter, glorious place,
A corner in God’s own kingdom
Made beautiful by your face.
And so these memories in glory
Shall cover those saddened hours
And shall give us a beautiful story
More than funeral and flowers.
And still, tho’ my heart is broken,
As I journey mountain and lea
I can see in Heaven a token
Of tenderness meant for me.
The paper that held this poem was so yellowed and brittle that I could scarcely hold it together as I tried to read the words my mother had written about her mother. Urgency gripped my heart as I struggled to hold and read the fragile pages—an urgency to get this into print before it disintegrated and disappeared.
There had been a family—grandparents, a father, mother, and five children, but Death had visited often. They never forgot the pitiful loneliness when the first child died of typhoid fever at age five. “Little Raymond” was less than two pounds when he was born, and slept in a man’s shoebox for a long time. Then by the time he was two, he won a perfect baby contest at the local photography shop. Many times my mother spoke of how she viewed him in the casket with a glass top and for the first time understood that nothing (not even tears) penetrated the glass. Mother was three at the time.
Later came the traumatic separation of the father and mother when my mother was ten. That same year, the grandmother, who had continuously offered kindness and hope, suddenly passed from this life. Finally, because of the widowed mother’s poverty and sickness, other families in the community adopted the three younger children.
Poverty and now the death of her mother left my mother completely alone. I cannot imagine how it must have felt being a very young single girl with no family.