Archives for posts with tag: daughters

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I Am Still Waiting for and on My Daughter
by Joan Leotta

For the past forty years
I have been and still am waiting
for and on our daughter,
excitedly, hopefully, with awe and wonder.
From the first day of knowing she was growing
Inside me, I dreamt about her,
how much she would love me,
my husband and our family.
Fraught times, waiting, lying on the floor
prying by her bed all night listening to her breathe
when she fought pneumonia,
it was hard to see the joy of waiting
listening to her cry when hurt, or angry
waiting for the right moment to
comfort her—these times were harder waits.
Her growing up, leaving home gave new
things to wait for— times
when she visits, when she calls,
and those large blocks of time
when we’re not with her.
Every day brings some excitement,
some new reason to choose to anticipate
the ways that hope and joy
will shape our day or fret and worry,
which steals away joy from any waiting.
I am still waiting
for the big and little things
to hear from her how
the everyday elements of her day,
play out rejoicing when she can call.
Most of all I hope that observing
how I still wait for her has made her
own waiting practice
a time of joyful anticipation.
Yes, I am still waiting.

PAINTING: Mother and Daughter by Mary Cassatt (1913)

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“To wait with openness and trust is an enormously radical attitude toward life. It is choosing to hope that something is happening for us that is far beyond our own imaginings. It is giving up control over our future and letting God define our life. It is living with conviction that God molds us in love, holds us in tenderness, and moves us away from the sources of our fear.” Henri Nouwen

 NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This quote helped me home in on what I wanted to say about waiting for and on our daughter,  being with her, praying for her, waiting to hear about her day even when she lives six hours from us now, the secret of seeing, waiting as joy instead of fretting, worrying and hopefully by example, having passed this on to her.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: A hug in Piazza di Spagna, Rome, Christmas 2014.  I’m on the left, daughter, Jennifer Leotta, is on my right.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joan Leotta plays with words on page and stage. Her work has appeared in several Silver Birch Press collections, and is recently in or forthcoming in When Women Write, Spillwords, Ovunque Siamo, and others.

mystical-conversation redon
How to Lose Your Mom Over and Over
by Lylanne Musselman

After her hard falls, more messy accidents,
you give in to the reality mom is too hard to handle
at home, since dementia has deteriorated her health
in these two years you’ve been sole caregiver.

Confined to her wheelchair, it’s a mystery how
she escaped the first nursing home you thought
extremely secure. You’re thankful she didn’t become
a statewide Silver Alert in that chilly October air.

With mom settled into a new facility, you make it through
a first Christmas without her at family gatherings. Visit her
four or five times a week. Adapt to other’s well-meaning phrase:
“You’re so lucky! At least you still have your mom.”

Never expect a pandemic lockdown of nursing homes,
or that her hugs from last March will have to hold you.
Call her often, she doesn’t understand why you’re not visiting,
she cries hearing your voice, you never know how to hang up.

Summer, a reprieve of outdoor visits, with masks, six feet apart,
no hugs, no touching. Hard for her to understand the need
for distance, she accuses you of not caring whether she’s dead
or alive, then begs to drive. So much for happy visits.

In autumn, her nursing home locks down again. You’re thankful
they have no Covid-19 cases. Until they do in late October,
then the call: “Your mom has a fever spike.” Nurses assure you
she’s tested negative twice. In November, she’s isolated

in the Covid unit, afraid and alone. Her nurse calls several times:
“Your mom is yelling nonstop! We don’t know how to calm her down.”
Upsetting since no visits are allowed. That Monday, go stand outside
her window. She recognizes you, but she’s a shell of herself.

Her death glares you in the face. Hospice needs to be called.
On Friday the 13th: “Honey, your mom is going to meet Jesus.
It won’t be long.” These words are hard to hear anytime,
but when you can’t be there, it’s cruel. You’re isolated, lost.

You hope she’s in a better place. Know she hated the rest “home,”
being forced to play Bingo, being limited to that wheelchair,
never knowing why her parents weren’t visiting.

PAINTING: Mystical Conversation by Odilon Redon (1896).

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: When I saw the call for a “How to” poem, I knew I had to write about what it was like to deal with my mom’s dementia, the nursing home, and then her death. 2020 was a hard year. I felt by writing about the experience in this way, it would not feel like such a heavy poem, and it would be one that I could write without feeling that I couldn’t deal with the pain of it all over again. Anyone who deals with a loved one with dementia knows what a hard thing it is, and then when a pandemic hits and puts so many limitations on everyone, it makes a hard situation harder. My mom didn’t survive the year, and I’m still processing all that’s happened. Being a poet helps, as most of us know it’s how we process our feelings.

AUTHOR’S NOTE ON THE PHOTO: I had to include a photo taken last summer during the few months that I was able to visit my mom, outside with a mask, and at a distance. She was not one to keep her mask on. I miss her, and those hard visits.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lylanne Musselman is an award-winning poet, playwright, and visual artist, living in Indiana. Her work has appeared in Pank, The Tipton Poetry Journal, The New Verse News, Rose Quartz Magazine, Silver Birch Press, and The Ekphrastic Review, among others, and many anthologies. Musselman is the author of five chapbooks, including Red Mare 16 (Red Mare Press, 2018), a co-author of the volume of poetry, Company of Women New and Selected Poems (Chatter House Press, 2013), and the author of the full-length poetry collection, It’s Not Love, Unfortunately (Chatter House Press, 2018). Musselman is currently working on another volume of poetry. Visit her at lylannemusselman.wordpress.com and on Facebook

two women and dove 1956
How to love a daughter
by Rose Mary Boehm

She will never forgive you
your love. She will reject the profound knowledge
that you are bound to each other.
Oh, sometimes, very occasionally,
she’ll almost be seduced by your insistence.
Make no mistake, it’s only a truce,
never peace. There is no steadfastness
in her offering of absolution.
She loved you once with a fierce
and all-consuming emotion.
That she will never forgive.
Neither will she forgive
that you had a life of your own,
that you needed to leave for fear
of the master. She looks at you
and finds you wanting
and tells you in a roundabout way
that you failed.
And you know you are guilty.
You look into her eyes
and feel her pain. She is judging you
and you will never forgive yourself.

IMAGE: Two Women and Dove by Pablo Picasso (Lithograph, 1956).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My first marriage became a little “crowded” at one point, and quite untenable. I had to leave. I left the country for what I thought would be two or three years. My daughter, 19 and a bit at the time, was the hardest hit. And, even though I supposedly left them with their father, he soon moved in with his girlfriend. Soon her older brother left too. She stayed behind in our big, old, rambling family home. It took my daughter years to “forgive” me. I carried the guilt for a long time.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rose Mary Boehm is a German-born British national living and writing in Lima, Peru. Her poetry has been published widely in mostly US poetry reviews (online and print). She was twice nominated for a Pushcart. Her fourth poetry collection, The Rain Girl, was published by Chaffinch Press in 2020. Visit her at rose-mary-boehm-poet.com and YouTube.

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My Lockdown Mask
by Carolyn O’Connell

I’ve not walked through the woods with you
heard the chime of bluebells, or passed
the garden where the wooden dinosaur rises
over the young trees planted last year.

I’ve not had hugs from you or sat at your table
while you prepared dinner, your girls
winding a path of chatter through the house
as you juggle being teacher, mother, and daughter.

Enclosed like a vestal in some far temple:
a hostage in a blue mask to the Pandemic God;
as the sun wakens earlier each morning
and others congregate below my window
like the blackbirds chattering in the hedge.

My mask sits unworn for everything’s delivered
and I’m seen only on the video of my computer
it’s the window of my Anchorite’s cell
where friends appear seeking my words.

While you in a handmade mask travel to teach
to children who’d rather be at home –
though they’re teens they know they’ll never get an “A”
they don’t know the meaning of social distance
but you’ll support them as you’ve always done.

I’m waiting for the day I can walk with you again
when arm in arm we’ll walk beside the river
and look back upon these days when you
came to me, when we only spoke as I stood at the door.

There I can sometimes see your daughters,
who sit quietly on the far step I cannot cross
for you have taught them how to social distance.

Photo of a walk beside the river by Nick Kane on Unsplash

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem is a reflection and conversation with my daughter on how it feels living in Lockdown and not having gone further than the front step since it began.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Carolyn O’Connell lived in London but now lives in Cheshire U.K. She has been published in Envoi, Reach, and other magazines, online and print, and in anthologies. Her debut collection Timelines was published by Indigo Dreams 2014. Her poems have been translated into Romanian via The University of Bucharest Translation Café/Poetrypf.com PoetryR/O project. Visit her blog, on Facebook, on Twitter, at Goodreads, and here.

bhatia
Me, in a HAT, Without Her
by Megha Punjabi

The thoughts of despair, often termed as unjust
What is fair and what is not
Who is to decide, when one gets what one deserves.
As I walk by the canal, the wind passes through the strands of my hair
I take out the hat from my bag
The hat, which was a gift from my mother

I had turned 18 that year, last birthday with my mom
Because then I was an adult to lead my life without her
Or, so did my fate conclude, I was left alone in this world
Never hugged her enough, never kissed her enough
And didn’t love her, the way she deserved
Only sobbed enough, in her absence, when the emptiness never
     seemed to be filled

Hat, you are a very precious thing to me
Last token of love from her
I wear it when I miss her the most
Only end up, missing her even more
Also, sometimes reliving the memories, I never want to fade away
Tears might have found their place, and doesn’t roll down the cheeks
     anymore.

But what do I do about that empty part in my heart
Which never seem to feel the same, without you?
Sometimes I see you in my dreams
And then you vanish into a land
Where I can’t reach or see you.
I wish I could rewind and live those days with you again.

PHOTO: The author in Amsterdam, The Netherlands (July 2016)

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My first visit to the continent of Europe, took me to the beautiful city, Amsterdam, Netherlands, it was like “love at first sight”. The place took me to another world, which is nowhere but, inside me. It kind of helped me connect with my inner soul and my mom. The black hat which I wore was my mom’s last gift to me, who passed away 9 years ago in 2007.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Megha Punjabi was born on 28th September 1989 in India, Asia. She has done her masters in Finance and Human resource. She has a spiritual bent of mind with a keen desire of writing poetry. Currently handling her family business of readymade garments in Lucknow, India, she also aspires to write a book.

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Shells of the Summer of ’62
by Joan Leotta

The soft ripple of low tide
rolled in to chill our toes.
Dad said the damp sand
was good for walking.
He pulled up the collar of my jacket.
Wind was pushing dark clouds our way.
There’d be no afternoon of sun and sandcastles.
We hopped over lines of soft white foam
zigzagging across the strip of brown sand
between our place and the ocean.
Gulls screeched, “Go back!”
I never looked up. My eyes were set
to hunt treasures in dawn’s tide.
At last I spotted something!
An orange fan! A perfect scallop shell!
Surf crashed with sudden interest in my search.
Foam fingers fastened on my prize,
pulling it back out into the ocean.
“Dad!”

Without even rolling up his pants,
he chased the wave back out toward the rocks.
He bent over and put down his hand.
Another wave swelled up.
“Dad, look out!”
In another second he was completely soaked.
But he had my shell.
I have it still.

SOURCE: First published in Older Eyes, Younger Tongues, Anthology, Northwoods Press (1990), and shared with friends on Facebook a year ago for Father’s Day.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Me (right) at the beach in Hyannis, Massachusetts, but a couple of years after the events of the poem—with my cousin, also named Joan.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Our family took a one week vacation every year. In 1962, when I was 14, my mother wanted to go to Cape Cod for our vacation. So, we drove 12 hours to Hyannis from Pittsburgh. I announced I was going to get up at dawn to hunt for seashells because I had read it was the best time to find them. My father gave up his vacation sleep-ins to get up with me. Every day.

gabriel dileonardo

After he died in 1987, my Mom found a box of seashells in our basement—my collection from that 1962 vacation. It was then this poem came to me. The actual incident never occurred, but the poem describes my dad so well that anyone who knew him, thinks it’s a real story until I explain. When I talk about poetry to school groups I often read the poem and then show the audience the shell pictured above right. Yes, I still have the box of shells. My Dad? Well, he is always in my heart. (Photo: The author’s father, Gabriel DiLeonardo.)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joan Leotta has been writing, performing, and collecting seashells since childhood. Now that she lives near the beach, in Calabash, North Carolina, her husband thought she would stop collecting. He was wrong. Joan’s picture book, Rosa’s Shell (coming out in 2017 from THEAQ LLC) is based on this poem.