During spring break from the university in March 1996, I got in my car and took the long journey from Cedar Falls, IA, to Stratford, CT, primarily to see my mother, Ruth Blackwell (née Coleman), who was suffering from a variety of illnesses. Both legs had been amputated above the knees; she had heart disease and breast cancer that had metastasized to her liver. She was dying as she approached her 63rd birthday on May 8. As I returned to Iowa when my break was over, I wrote the following poem: “Oh, Mommy!” I pay tribute to my mother in this fashion, twenty-six years after she passed!
Oh, Mommy! How I wish you had lived
According to all you dreamed,
And were able to reach all of your goals
In the manner you had deemed.
Oh, Mommy! How I wish I could see
The majesty of your smile,
That lit my life as your childlike voice
Minimized my baggage pile.
Oh, Mommy! How I wish I could hear
The soft laughter that was you,
As you slaved at home for us and Dad—
Forgetting what was your due.
Oh, Mommy! How I wish you had known
The freedom of living life,
By being all that you damned well pleased
Beyond child, mother, and wife.
Oh, Mommy! How I wish you could walk
With back erect, hands held high. . .
With the liberty to dance, to talk,
And to breathe an endless sigh.
Oh, Mommy! How I wish you had felt
The sustenance of true love:
The friendship of one you did not fear—
The tenderness of a dove.
Oh, Mommy! How I wish you could see
The l’il grands mature and grow;
Their dreams reflect your maternal touch,
Your wisdom’s in their eyes’ glow.
Oh, Mommy! Oh, Mommy! Oh, Mommy!
Once perennial as grass—
Now, gone from us, thy soul released. . .still,
How I wish you did not pass!