Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day: An e. e. cummings Tribute

My gorgeous mother with new grandbaby, my nephew Jude

My mother is a woman "more precious than rubies" in so many ways. In addition to possessing a loving, giving spirit which is a constant inspiration to me, she has also surrounded me by a group of strong women who act as "second mothers" to me. Some of these have been family members: her sister -- my wonderful Aunt Carole (and my namesake); my two grandmothers and my great-grandmother (my paternal grandmother's mother) who lived to nearly 100; my paternal grandmother's half a dozen sisters -- "great"-aunts in more than one way; her first cousins Melba and Marsha, who were more like sisters to her and aunts to me.
Others have been my mother's good friends -- mothers of my playmates, fellow teachers, church members from various congregations, and now her prayer group members, to whom that label is really a misnomer.

"Prayer group members" conjures a picture of pious women who meet once a week or once a month to discuss Biblical issues only. My mother's friends, and my "second mothers", are involved in every aspect of each others' lives. They pray together, surely; but they also eat, laugh, swim, vacation, shop, and work (in some instances) together. And they are there for one another not only in good times (vacation, shopping, eating), but in hard times as well. Divorce, cancer, and even death have affected their tightly-knit group, and through it all they remain exactly where they want to be -- by each others' sides. They have all acted in one way or another "motherly" towards me, but most of all, my mother's including me in some of their activities has allowed me to experience the richness of character that is their example. How to be loving, caring women -- and isn't that the true definition of a mother? "One who cares for..."?

The following is a poem that makes me think of my mother and all the wisdom she has imparted upon me. I am not a huge lover of poetry, but e. e. cummings is one of my favorites. Here is cummings's poem to his own mother, and so I may steal the sentiment:
if there are any heavens my mother will(all by herself)have
one. It will not be a pansy heaven nor
a fragile heaven of lilies-of-the-valley but
it will be a heaven of blackred roses

my father will be(deep like a rose
tall like a rose)

standing near my
(swaying over her
with eyes which are really petals and see

nothing with the face of a poet really which
is a flower and not a face with
which whisper
This is my beloved my
(suddenly in sunlight

he will bow,

& the whole garden will bow)

So with those words from e. e. cummings, happy Mother's Day to my own mother and to all the other mothers out there who struggle each day to do the best they can by their children, whether those be biological children or just children who they "adopt" and take under their wings. (Notably, my sister-in-law, who is a new mommy this year!)

My beautiful nephew Jude with his mommy Holly


  1. God blessed me greatly on October 9, 1981, with a beautiful baby girl who has grown into a beautiful woman with an even more beautiful soul. I love you!!

  2. Dear Joanna,
    How beautiful & such a tribute to all mothers. I count it a privelege to be counted as one of your second mothers. My heart breaks, because I know how much you all miss little Jude and of course Carson & Holly. We've missed Nancy lately, but we know she was getting in as much Granny time as possible before they left.
    Love You,

  3. Angela HeffingtonMay 10, 2010 at 11:11 AM

    Dear Joanna,
    These are such sweet and precious words. I can tell that some of your Mother (as well as you second 'mothers') has "rubbed" off on you. You have grown into a wonderful young woman. You Mother is greatly blessed to have a daughter like you. It was so good to see you at church yesterday. You are in my prayers. With much love, Angela

  4. Wow, Joanna! Can you write!
    I absolutely love this tribute to you mom and all mothers. I am so proud of your writing talent. Most of all, I am thankful to know you and know your, carol chambers



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