Tag Archives: mother

7 year anniversary since my mother died

Photo of Mom I hadn't seen

When I awoke this morning, something seemed off. Then I realized: it was an anniversary, a sad one–the 7th year since I lost my mother to lung cancer.

We were all with her, all her children and a few partners. I’ve written a few poems about it, and since then, I often blog on her birthday. Today, though, called for a release, at least through what I am starting to call my “public fastwrites.”

It seems so long ago. A lot can happen in seven years. I believe I’m happier, in general (what does THAT mean?!). I wish we could go on walks these beautiful spring days. I wish she could join me on a lounge chair on my deck and just listen to the sound of the creek as the water runs over the rocks.

But wishing is futile. She’s gone–at least in bodily form. I do feel there’s still a connection though don’t ask me to explain in theological or metaphysical terms. That may be a cop-out and it also may be my journey for the remainder of my life.


although she’s gone, it’s still my mother’s birthday

All day I’ve remembered:  April 9th is–or was–my mother’s birthday. She passed away in 2007. Lung cancer, a tough way to go. She had time to say goodbye and was surrounded by all her children (plus a few spouses) that early morning on March 18th when she gasped her last breath.

What new thing can I say? Just that I will never be a mother…..this lifetime. Only furry children in this household. I’m relieved, though:  I get anxious enough with the dogs and cats. I swear I was “Olde Mother Hubbard who lived in a shoe/had so many children/she didn’t know what to do” in a previous life, swearing I wouldn’t couldn’t please don’t make me do that again, God! So I haven’t.

Funny–I don’t remember celebrating Mom’s birthday when all five of us kids lived there in that house at 406 Millville Avenue. Doesn’t this seem strange? Part of this is my memory, I’m sure, yet–wouldn’t one stand out? Perhaps she grew tired of so many birthdays–five kids, after all, a dad (later step dad), and grandmothers, too, to keep track of. All in the busy–no, hectic–schedule of a mother.

I can send no card. I could sing a song. Instead I will write this piece on my blog, then post it on Facebook and Twitter to share. We’ve all had a mother and many of us have lots of mixed and complex feelings about it.

Like kitchen ones:   she rarely allowed me to wash the dishes after a meal. I offered. Believe me, I was the oldest and knew I had a role to play. Yet she said no. I believe she liked being alone for those rare moments when she washed, dish by dish, cup by cup, then placed each item carefully in the drainer to dry overnight. She would allow me to help her make cookies. But when she’d use the store bought ones, prefabricated, in slices in a tin, this would occur:   she’d catch me licking a piece of the chocolate chip dough and accuse, “You’ll get worms from eating that raw dough!” Year later, I asked about this of some friend who knew a lot about cooking and was told this information was erroneous. My mother lied?

But then I recall the night Grandpa died. She consciously took me aside, specially, and sat me down for a serious adult conversation. I think I was seven. Mom told me he had died and that I would never see him again. She felt it’d be better if I didn’t go to the funeral. It was very factual and I don’t think I cried (I was closer to Grandma, anyway; it was perhaps my first experience with this thing called dying).

Which brings me back to this evening’s reflection:  someone has a birthday but is dead. Passed into another dimension. Gone. How does one celebrate when that being isn’t “here” to participate?

Well, consider this a toast to Irene Shirley Hornsby. And who am I to say, with any certainty, whether or not other beings can sense when their name is sung?

today would have been my mother’s 80th birthday

April 9th. That date has stuck with me all my life for it was my mother’s birthday.

An Aries, she was assertive and friendly but knew who and what she liked or did not. She loved flowers and nature and breakfast at Frisch’s. Once, after my stepfather died, she joined me on a trip to the San Francisco Bay area. I still have the photo of us riding the boat to Alcatraz. I have many fond memories of that trip. But that’s another posting.

This morning I thought, what could I do to honor her birthday? I have kept an altar to her in my meditation room with some photos, candles, and flowers. I decided an arati (waving of a tray with flowers and candle in devoted honor to someone, usually a guru) would be appropriate. I thought, what tune, what chant or hymn? What spontaneously issued from my mouth was “Happy Birthday to You . . .” I had to smile; it was appropriate, after all, for it would always be her birthday even if her physical self and body were no longer here. Then I remembered a tune described as a zen Buddhist hidden message and sang “Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream, merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, Life is but a dream.” I appreciate these reminders from time to time so as to not take my self so seriously and get on with the important things in my life.

One special gift the Universe has brought into my life lately is an accordion. Actually, I’ve had it since shortly after mom’s death. My sister Linda let me have it, after I expressed interest. Before I, her first born entered this world, Irene Shirley Drees played accordion with a group of young women (I have a picture to prove it!). Although this accordion is not that original one — I believe it to be one she picked up at a yard sale much later — still, there will always be this association of accordions with my mother. So it’s been sitting in my meditation room closet (ironically) and just a week or so ago, I remembered it and brought it out. I expected to hear wheezy sounds and dust and a dilapadated condition but, lo and behold, the accordion seemed pretty intact. She looked lovely, too, silvery blue with white (ivory?) keys. What a complicated instrument, truly.

Now I don’t know how to read music, really, but I seem to have had a past life talent musically that has manifested these past two years. At the meditation group I go to, Scott discovered I had a nice voice, then he invited me to learn harmonium. The live chants of kirtan I have participated in have added tremendously to my spiritual practice. I am bhakti through and through.

So how does the accordion fit into all this? Well, I took a chant I played on harmonium and messed around with the accordion keyboard. It’s a quite complicated instrument with bellows and another side of little black buttons for bass but oh so cool. Positively gypsy! And I discovered some free instructional videos on YouTube. This guy explains the parts of an accordion in plain English. I intend to have fun with this new challenge!

So, Mom, if you’re watching from somewhere — and listening — I’m sure I’ll make you smile as you hear your daughter’s trials and tribulations with the musical instrument of your choice. Happy Birthday, Mom!

the 20 minute friend / poem 70

I took a guest to the Siddha Yoga Meditation Center tonight. ‘B,’ as I shall call her, is a friend of a friend but we had never met until I pulled up at her condo to give her a ride. Since our Center is small, the host/mc that evening said “I notice someone new. Welcome! Are you a friend of Phebe?” B’s answer: “for about twenty minutes.” This was the length of our ride across town. I chuckled then and later told her how clever her answer was.


how many minutes does it take to make a friend?
there are those times you feel it right away.
the first glimpse of you startled me — you resembled my mother.

there’s nothing weirder: poem 60

there’s nothing weirder than seeing a picture of your mom
float onto your computer screen, that final photo
taken on her bed before she left the ravages of cancer

Mom's last picture