Thursday, 2 June 2016

Alice Maud Taber OR Remembering My Mother


[Update May 21st 2017]: Today is International Mother's Day and several readers have asked me to repeat this poem, not least because - as regular readers will have noticed - I often quote various pearls of wisdom she left with me.]

It is 40 years today (June 2nd 1976) since my mother died. [She was born 100 years ago on July 16] A friend is coming for lunch and we will be sharing a bottle of Baileys Irish Cream Liqueur.

She was a remarkable woman, my mum. She would talk to anyone and anyone would talk to her regardless of any artificial class barriers. Above all, she was a very understanding and forgiving person, traits of human nature that - in my experience - rarely go hand in hand in people and which, sadly, are anything but common in my own family. (I like to think I am a very understanding person, but struggle with forgiveness and win through only too rarely.)

Throughout my childhood, my mother would often tell me story poems instead of a traditional story at bed-time. (She could recite The Highwayman and The Ancient Mariner by heart!) Even as a young man, I used to love to hear her reciting poetry.

We cannot celebrate death, but celebrating a person much loved and a life well lived is always a privilege.
   
My mother at 21 (1937)


My mother at the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, 1971


ALICE MAUD TABER or REMEMBERING MY MOTHER
         (1916-1976)

Always there for me, believing in me
more than I believed in myself, knowing me
better than I knew myself,
loving me more than I loved myself
although I could never  give you
what you wanted, be what you wanted,
live or love how you wanted...
subscribe to your fantasy of family unity;
we did our best by each other, assisting
one another through life’s maze of emotional
twists, turns, and dead-ends; me, unable
to grasp for years how conflicting loyalties
were tearing you apart...

Yours, a divided heart never truly made whole;
we whose demands you loved to meet
always failing it. Yet, even now, years on
since a tumour took its toll, you are (still)
one to whom this poet turns, always striving
for some peace of mind, heart, and soul
(imagination’s impossible goal) - learning 
to read between lines to which you gave
life and meaning. Only, then I wasn’t listening
(youth thinks it knows everything.)

Copyright R. N. Taber 2005; 2011

[Note: This poem has been slightly revised from the original version that appears as the dedication poem in A Feeling for the Quickness of Time by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2005; revised edition in e-format in preparation]

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