“Poems for my Mom”

A Lifetime of Poems for my Mom, Vivian Jean Hettervig

February 21, 1933 -December 20, 2020

My first:
“Mother bakes and doesn’t measure,
but when I eat it … it’s a pleasure.
It mostly works with cherry pies …
I think she’s very wise.”

“At Work in the Hospital”
By Valerie J Laidlaw, age 8,
(published in the “Sir Vet” newsletter)

“Mother works until it’s done
Working, working, having fun,
Working, working, that and this
Doing things she’ll never miss,
Doing things every day,
Telling patients what she has to say,
After mother’s done with work each day,
She tells us what the patients say.”

“Treasured Memories”
By Valerie J Laidlaw

“Amongst my crock of utensils of wood,
There’s a spoon of much wear yet good.
I’ve known this spoon unlike all of the others,
It is rather old you see,
It was my mother’s.

This spoon stirred up many bubbling saucepans of sugary syrup on a burner,
Scooping, then dripping candy marbles in a small saucer of water.
This spoon scraped the rest of the stream of syrup into a mixing bowl of spinning, stiffened egg-whites,
Forming a meringue of marshmallowy fluff.
This spoon dabbled soft peaks onto an angel cake or pie.
This spoon stirred cookies, cakes, frosting, divinity or fudge,
And whoever helped stir was treated afterwards.
Many times, as a child, I had licked this spoon coated with chocolate or butterscotch.

The spoon is still here, and so is my mother, yet her mindful of memories are all but gone.”

“The Hat”
by Valerie J. Laidlaw

“So proudly she donned her newest treasure,
Promenading so proudly with such pleasure.
I thought, ‘how cool!’
Folds of black scarving formed a turban-like base,
Which beautifully framed her eyes, and eyebrows and her dimply, rosey-cheeked face!
The highlight of this amazing, millinery marvel drew the viewers eyes upward,
Roving towards a ruffled, virtual ‘forest’ of feathers,
Flopping, floating, crazily ‘every-which-way’ without rhymed reasoning,
And so gloriously- absurd!
Well, my mom decided to wear this new accent to her beauty,
To our Midwestern church,
Whose opinionated members were quite conservative, gossipy, and snooty.
I thought, ‘How fun!’
She had the best time, in church as her feathers tickled my dad’s nose,
And, as she slipped into the lady’s room afterwards starred down by two snobbish crows.
Coffee-time in the ‘Church-ladies’ basement’ was definitely a hoot!
The feathers flew freely onto our clothes, jackets, and suits.
Ironically, many of the ladies, although enviously green,
And, despite the drama and the spectacle of the scene,
Poured out compliments, as the church crowded giggled and cooed.
No one was showing my mom their usually snobbery, nor were they rude.
I thought, ‘Wow!’
I think from that Sunday onward we found,
The church became less uppity, nicer all around. Unfortunate for my mom, arriving back home, instead,
My dad told she’s never to wear that crazy hat again, on her head,
So, it went back permanantly in its box on a shelf, near their bed.
Forgotten, until now.”

By Valerie J. Laidlaw

“While visiting a former haunt of my mother’s life, it is revealed,
That I can still envision her twirling gracefully upon spinning wheels.

In every little prairie town,
An indoor roller rink was found,
As my mom grew up to be a teen,
Her genuine love of skating gleaned,
Greeted by her friends and dates,
She’d lace up her leather skates,
Rocking to the radio sounds,
’50’s music echoed down.

Her dreams of ever skating pro,
Slipped away as she let them go,
Her life played out a different tune.
As she married young, in the baby boom.
She loved watching figure-skaters on tv,
She brought us to ice rinks before age 3.
I remember her spinning and gliding on ice,
Undaunted, while she fell down twice.

When faced with cancer in her middle years,
She skated, bringing fun face-to-face towards her fears.
Her survival brought her back, as her talents revealed,
To the strength of her spirit which soared as she wheeled.
Eventually, her beloved wheels were hung,
Yet, she had fond memories from skating when she was young.

It seems, as her daughter, her experiences of life stay alive,
As they guide me to persevere, and be grateful to her, as I also survive.”

“Grateful Heart”
By Valerie J Laidlaw

“Years ago, on a Christmas break morn,
I awoke twice early, with my second born.
We delivered the newspapers of those days,
We looked up as the skies lit up, both amazed.
The Northern Lights greeted us with rippled, illuminated, colorful streaks,
Both of us, breathless,
Neither he nor I stopped our mission,
As neither of us could find words to speak.
Afterwards, I lay down, till dawn broke the day.
I woke up with a numbness, yet, a hypersensitive pain.
Afraid, never before had I experienced this feeling,
Unable to walk, no strength, not knowing with what I was dealing.
Scared, I called my mom who joined me to the emergency room,
A Doctor spoke of MS, lifelong ‘friends’ reacted to me speaking of a fate of doom.
With my mom in neuropsych, a doctor spoke rudely about giving up to die,
My mom snapped angrily back to him wanting to punch him in the eye,
She knew I sought answers, to know what courses of action to try,
I wasn’t about to give up, cower, take pity on myself, or cry.
I was so glad she took the time off to be there,
to drive me for my lab tests, and an MRI.
Later, after treatments, gradually rebuilding my strength,
I learned I had ‘Guillain-Barré Syndrome’ during that time of length.
Fortunate was I, and grateful to my mom,
The one person in my life I could back then always rely upon.
Nowadays, when I know that she is suffering, yet, I am unable to hold her hand, and come help her,
It is my hope, that she feels love from my grateful heart, sent in prayers, always and forever.”

By Valerie J Laidlaw

A chubby cherub had arrived from heaven,
On my mother’s birthday in February of ’67.
I was ten, and, still the “baby.”
Excited, for either a brother, or a sister, maybe.
He came home, after a full week’s stay,
In the hospital, unlike nowadays.
Daniel Joseph, our baby brother,
I loved him, dearly, like no other,
For three days, he was home,
He cried, as he lay next to me on my bed, then…
In his crib, across the hall, his exhausted young heart had stopped, and, started again,
He lived,
Yet, the next time, and the last time, I saw him alive at all,
Was when my folks snuck me up the back stairwell, in the hospital.
My poor brother, so alone, in an “isolette,”
I felt so helpless for him, and I’ll never forget.
My folks flew with him, to the cities, with the hope of fixing his heart,
After surgery, however, it had failed to restart.
Our neighbors came around, for my mom and our family, but we didn’t want all that sadness,
We didn’t want him to stop living, and depart.
My mom only said, “He was too good for this earth!”
And, that, “He was now an angel, again, up in heaven, like he was, before his birth!”
After that time, we seldom mentioned his name,
The photos were sealed away, and our lives were never completely the same.
Upon the birth of my first-born baby boy,
My mother’s feelings flooded back with extremely, long, lost tears of great joy!
So much of the hurt of the loss of her “Danny” she had held “closed off,” yet, dear,
Healed, in that moment, as, she hugged her new grandson, Kyle, who resembled, to her,
The baby, she had missed, for those many, sad, “silent” years.

“Bread Day”
By Valerie J Laidlaw

Every so often, as a kid, I never knew when,
I’d get up, go downstairs & go into the kitchen.
In my mom’s largest, round Tupperware bowl,
There was a huge, soft-looking “belly” of dough.
She’d pinch & pull away part of the dough, as she kneaded it,
Rolling, forming a loaf in each pan & brushing melted butter on each bread, as she treated it.
Under a moist flour sack dish towel she covered the loaves, as they doubled in size,
Never measuring, yet results were always perfectly risen & precise.
As she baked these, I’d pinch little pieces into
Rectangles of dough which I’d flatten with a small rolling pin,
That upon, I’d spread with raisins, sugar, butter & cinnamon,
Rolling them up into tubes, for to cut up & slice.
I had tiny aluminium cake & muffin pans, so small & so nice,
Of which I’d bake with, filling them twice.

Whenever I come to a bakery, wherever I roam,
The aroma of fresh bread baking reminds me of home.

By Valerie J. Laidlaw
July 10, 2020

Thinking back on the many conversations with my mom,
I realize where so many of my thoughts, actions, and feelings come from.
A response she had said before Alzheimer’s and Dementia had taken over her subsequent years,
During a visit with my mom, quite a while back in time,
I knew she faced more challenges, yet her abilities for the most part were still fine.
Since my mom had retired, wasn’t as busy, and had much less work, plus, less worries,
I had asked her if she’d like to write down some of her memories and her stories.
She replied that if she did so,
“It would bore me to tears!
I’m not much for writing
In a journal of words,
I’d much rather sit here,
Just watching the birds!”

“Guardian Angels”
By Valerie J. Laidlaw

When I can no longer speak, see or hear,
When its tougher to think, or remember people which I hold dear,
When my body is tense, and uncooperative,
When I can’t eat, or sleep, and my life becomes more difficult to live,
When my mind gets jumbled up, and less clear,
Please, help me, when I’m overcome with fear!
When I ache in my joints, and my muscles get stiffened or weak,
It’s kindness, patience, and love I seek!
Sometimes, in my mind, I see you still as a child, my girl, or my boy,
You make me less lonesome, and you bring me laughter and joy.
Some days it might seem like it makes no difference that you were here or there,
But it does, each and every time you show me that you care.
Even when my songs and chants become shouts of pain,
I still feel the love you gave that time you came.
Even when I’m hurting, can’t eat, I fight, and I push you away,
Inside, I’m confused, yet, I still believe, at times, as I rejoice and pray,
Inside, I hope to see you come back, and stay with me on yet another day.
Inside, I still get sad and cry, when you’re leaving, and say, “Goodbye!”
Inside, I still need bedtime stories, hugs, and a lullaby.

“We’ll See”

A child’s dream request,
A mother’s responsive bequest.

Looking Towards Heaven
Mom and Val at Sunnyside, Lake Park, MN
By the lake at Sunnyside, MN
4 generations, GrgrmaVivian Jean Hettervig, Valerie Jean, Kyle Joseph & Charlee Jean Roos
Original family, Vivian at left front.

“I’m a little teapot!”
4 generations, Charlee, Layla, Kyle, Joshua, Jaci, Kaira & GrGmaViv
4 generations, Kevin, Mark, Val & GrgrmaViv
Christmas in Moorhead, MN
Rollerblading at Skateland, Fargo, ND
Surrounded by Grandchildren, Hidden Hills, near Detroit Lakes, MN

1 thought on ““Poems for my Mom”

  1. Pingback: Vivian Jean, her story, 19 | grmaval

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