Tag Archives: mother

Like being there


Mom bought our first color TV in ’67,
so we could watch Bob Gibson personally
best the Red Sox in the World Series.
She loved baseball to be sure,
but she loved it even more on that Trinitron
(although, to be fair, the image was fuzzy
and the too-much-red/too-much-green worse.)
Still, I’d run home from school as fast as I could
so we could agonize over every pitch and play.
In the final inning of the final game,
I cursed a few times and not only
didn’t she notice, but she cursed along too.

Sometimes in life, it’s not about the doing,
but about the done and who you were with at the time.
Which is why, I suppose, I don’t watch baseball anymore.

September is the anniversary of my mother’s passing. In honor of her memory and her favorite time of the year—the end of Major League Baseball’s regular season and the start of the playoffs for the World Series—I decided to post this poem. My only sibling, my sister, gives it a “perfect!” So there.

Read on only if you are a baseball nerd… 🙂

The ‘Impossible Dream’ Boston Red Sox team of 1967 (at the time, the first winning Red Sox team in a decade) was formidable, anchored by future hall-of-famers Carl Yastrzemski and ace pitcher and Cy Young award winner Jim Lonborg. Yet, despite this, their making it into the World Series at all was a near miracle, since in the last weekend of regular season, four teams were in the pennant running, separated by 1 game apiece.

But then, when the Sox got to the World Series, they ran into Bob ‘Hoot’ Gibson‘s St. Louis Cardinals. The seven game series that followed was one of the most entertaining, nerve wracking, nail biter series of all times. After 4 games it looked like the Cards were a lock, but the Sox fought back and won the next two, forcing a game-of-the-decade showdown, only to face Gibson on the mound and lose, yet again, to him. With 3 wins (rare for a pitcher in a 7 game series) and even some productive hitting (also a rarity for pitchers) Gibson was the well-deserved Most Valuable Player of the series. In an odd twist of fate, Boston’s ‘Curse of the Bambino‘ was not broken until 2004 (despite attempts in ’75 and ’86) when they swept the Cardinals for their first World Series since 1918. Meanwhile, St. Louis is second on the list (after They Who Shall Not Be Named) for most Series wins, 11 out of 19 appearances.

Thank you for reading Like being there. I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain, and as always, I look forward to your comments.

The photograph is a domain free stock image which I blurred and then oversaturated the reds and greens. That sure bought back some memories! To see my photography blog, please visit the Book of Bokeh.

john

Poem and notes © John Etheridge; all rights reserved. The poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original written work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © John Etheridge,  https://bookofpain.wordpress.com. The photograph is not licensed for use in any way without the expressed consent of its creator.

Advertisements

7 Comments

Filed under Poetry

Here, for you

IMG_5663On the day my parents renewed their vows
I was empty and tired—all I could think of was,
now you know
.

Around and around it went, inside my head,
crowding out whatever the priest,
who hadn’t known them then, was saying.
Now you know what the reward is
when 
the burden of new
is balanced by 
the weight of certitude:
how soft it is to fall in love,
how rough those years are to carry.
Now you know as I knew,
like I know now as you knew then.

I remember standing there,
looking down at my father’s casket
as it hovered over their double plot and thinking:
there’s not much, but there is this—I made it.

up

Even into the 1960’s, Newfoundland, my birthplace, was similar to the religious separation of Northern Ireland: Catholics and Protestants did not mix or socialize, and they certainly did not trust one another. Thus, my parents wedding in the late 1940’s (my mother was Protestant and my father Catholic) was a shock to the community in general and the two families in particular. It was made worse when, years later, so as to instruct her firstborn in Catholicism (a promise she had made when she married my father) my mother first took lessons in the church, and then to complete the unity of the family, converted to being Catholic.

And although with the years such religious ignorance faded and died, for much of their early marriage they both bore the brunt of religious prejudice—much from the Catholic Church itself and more from within their own families. I believe that the greater part of who I am and what I am is in honor to their decision and I am grateful that at their end I was able to stay faithful to their love and courage and bear witness to it.

This is (thus far at least) the last of a trilogy of poems about my father’s passing. I hope you have enjoyed them.

Thank you for reading Here, for you. I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain, and as always, I look forward to your comments.

The photograph was taken last year in Newfoundland from my father’s hospital window. Sadly, it tells you what the weather in Newfoundland is usually like: dreary. Luckily, the kindness and generosity of the people there make up for it. To see my photography blog, please visit the Book of Bokeh.

john

Photograph, poem and notes © John Etheridge; all rights reserved. The poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original written work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © John Etheridge,  https://bookofpain.wordpress.com. The photograph is not licensed for use in any way without the expressed consent of its creator.

10 Comments

Filed under Poetry

Everyone should know where they come from

A story of Dharaa, originally from Nepal; dedicated to her aunt and grandmother.

Even though we all lived together, I don’t remember
being carried by my parents, grandparents or aunt.
They must have, many times, as they and I surely did
for my little brother and sister; but knowing it
and knowing it are two different things.
The only time I remember my father carrying me
was to and from the hospital when I broke my leg.
I was 7 and despite the pain,
I was happy just to be in his arms.

I think of my aunt as my older sister, or mother, really—
our relatives still call us ‘mother-daughter.’ But try
as I might, I can’t remember her carrying me either.
It’s not that there isn’t proof because there are photos.
One I really love is of me as a baby in her lap on
her wedding day. Grandmother laughs about it now
and tells me that I was the scandal of the day,
screaming and fussing not to be taken from her,
that I was so awful my uncle’s family still
talks about it to this day!

Now I am 21 and yet, every time I visit them,
I never miss to lie in their laps, close my eyes
and drift. And they never fail to comment that now I am
a grown up lady—it’s their turn to rest on my lap
and that soon my children-to-be will lie there too.
I yell, No way, I’m not done yet and I never will be!
And as they stroke my hair, they smile secretly thinking
I don’t understand but that someday I will, and I hide
my smile from them thinking that they don’t understand,
but really I know they do. And then I realize:
when I raise my family, my children won’t remember
me carrying them. I have to buy a camera!

This is the final third of narrative type poems I’ve written recently, although this time it is not my story. I was leaping from blog to blog one day and came across a posting by a young Nepalese lady named Dharaa, entitled Don’t remember being hoisted up. I was immediately struck with how charming the story was and I asked her permission to put it into a poem, which she granted.

I hope, Dharaa, that you like it, as I hope all of you do.

Thank you for reading Everyone should know where they come from. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.

john

© 2013 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. This poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © 2013 by John Etheridge, https://bookofpain.wordpress.com.

3 Comments

Filed under Poetry

What matters

How did the formal dress of my mother’s day
decay into the shabbiness of my own?
Never would she have left the house
in less than a dress, good shoes,
hair done, hat and gloves,
a handkerchief tucked into her purse.

She would, I think, like me to dress her
more properly now: to weed her plot,
trim the grass, plant some flowers,
clean the headstone. Not to beautify
her—not anymore—but to adorn me.
To her it was not just what you wore,
it was how you wore what you were
that counted.

Growing up in the 60’s and 70’s, my generation took pride in ridiculing the 50’s as a time of great hypocrisy covered in a thin veneer of  politeness and decorum…a world in which racism was rampant (and it was), where war was considered romantic (it isn’t and wasn’t), where women were considered—if they were considered at all—subservient (big mistake that one) and where the overall, arching impetus of life was to show a perfect front, never mind the misery that was behind the facade.

Thus did the Flower Power generation excuse their own excesses as ‘breaking out’, ‘being free’ and ‘letting it all hang out’. Politeness and ‘the proper way’ became stock characters of silliness and hypocrisy. And yes, while the times they were a changin’—and there were things that needed to be changed—I have long given up the belief that everything that went out the door with the bathwater should have been got rid of.

From the ‘high’ of politics (i.e. publicly visible) to the ‘low’ of everyday interaction, rudeness rules. And the motto of the entertainment industry is, if it’s disgusting, slutty, petty or mean, it stars!

Courtesy is free and yet priceless. So is honesty, trustworthiness, humility, justice and kindness. And I’m greedy, I want them all.

Thank you for reading What matters. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.

john

© 2013 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. This poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © 2013 by John Etheridge, https://bookofpain.wordpress.com.

3 Comments

Filed under Poetry

The doily


doily

One of my mother’s doilies
rests now by my bed
awaiting its goodnight caress.
It is, in truth, a tacky little thing
of garish colors
knit square into a rainbow-like affair.
It is the sort of thing
I would have teased her on
had I seen it before she died.
She loved that, you know,
laughing out loud in my face.

A doily is a small ornamental mat or table napkin usually handmade of lace or linen. My mother was an insomniac and so had a penchant for making these during the many long nights she was up and awake.

Make no bones about it, it is a tacky little thing and I really would have teased her unmercifully over it if I had seen it before she died. And now…well, obviously now, it is one of my many small treasures. We collect them—small treasures—don’t we, as we grow older?

I hope something of my mother’s wonderful, vibrant and strong personality rings through this poem, although truth be it known, no words of mine could ever really capture her amazing vitality or strength of will.

It has been many long years since my mother’s passing in 1988, but still, I miss her, very, very much.

Thank you for reading The doily. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.

john

© 2013 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. This poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © 2013 by John Etheridge, https://bookofpain.wordpress.com.

10 Comments

Filed under Poetry