Remembering Mommy. A poem for Mother’s Day ❤

Ethel Vaughn Connor

I Remember You (For Mommy)

With every embrace

I remember you

In every poem I write

I honor you

Each boo-boo I kiss

Every time I drop everything to respond to a call from the school

I invoke glimpses of your face

I remember you

Prayers tucked into wrinkles of your hands

Wisdom in the tight grey coils that framed a crown of compassion on your forehead

Baby oil in the bathtub and Vaseline on your feet

Callouses from walking your journey with no shoes

Allowing the earth as a cushion beneath

Fourteen years, 5,110 days, 112640 hours and 7,358,400 minutes

The time lapse does not stop tears and memories from flooding my heart

I remember you

Homemade cigarettes in the basement

We watched not knowing you found comfort exhaling

You inhaled concoctions of joy, sadness, loss and grief

Both liberating and toxic

I speak of you to your grandchildren

Chance meetings as souls passed in transition

They remember you though never met you here on earth

I hear you in the deep vibrato of Nina Simone and Lou Rawls

I smell you in the cinnamon nutmeg infused sweet potato pie I can’t quiet get to taste the same way

I see you in the eyes of my son you ushered onto this plane

My children speak of past lives with you

I cry for you

I laugh with you

I speak to you

I still need you

I wait

To hear you

I call, and you still answer

I remember you

And thank you

For remembering me too

From “Toni’s Room, a poetic journey to restoration”

(c) Toni Love Publishing

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The Day I Left God – Performance Poetry with Sistahs Laying Down Hands, Mother’s Day 2018

Mother’s Day is always bittersweet for me. I know as a Mother that there is pressure to smile and gush at the numerous mother’s day wishes, cards and love from my kids, but even after seventeen years, I still awaken with a small void knowing I can only speak the sentiment to my own mom, and seek to hear her respond in soft whispers of the wind.

When I was asked to collaborate with the phenomenal drummers and artists Sistahs Laying Down Hands for Mother’s Day I immediately said yes. Every performance together has been a gift to me and as I tapped into my intuition I knew that I needed to be in that space on that day, I just didn’t know why. I chose to recite a poem I wrote as part of my grief work after my mother transitioned. I was in my first trimester and I thought God to be so cruel to take my mother when I was first becoming a mother. Writing helped me come to terms with the loss and my faith and I recite this poem to help other motherless children feel that it’s okay to speak the pain of grief and release it.

I didn’t know that at the dawn of Mother’s Day this year I would be admitting my first-born to the hospital after spending hours in the emergency room. Everything in me wanted to cancel the performance but I had committed and my son told me “you should do it Mom, I know you’ll be good”. So with little sleep and a strained voice I sang and performed my poem surrounded by the healing energy of the drum. It was where I needed to be and I am grateful for the opportunity to receive the strength and the spiritual support through art.

My poem is about 5 minutes in, but you will want to watch from the beginning for a wonderful spoken word of remembrance of mothers and of course the powerful hands of the Sistahs Karen Smith and Miriama Koroma! You can search this blog for the words to the poem.

May you be continue to feel the nurturing of a mother’s love in spite of where she may or may not be in your life. Love comes in all forms. ~Toni Love

#loveistheanswer

 

New Shoes: My Mother’s Day Gift from Above

wpid-20150510_100024.pngMy Mother transitioned a little less than fourteen years ago, and last year was the first year I awakened on Mother’s Day without heaviness in my heart and tears in my eyes. Our relationship expanded beyond mother and daughter, we were best friends, so it was a deeper loss for me. The first few years were the most difficult. Even though I was a mother myself, all of the Mother’s Day commercials with scenes of children hugging and delivering gifts and flowers to their mothers trickled into my joy like Chinese water torture. The constant barrage of reminders and emails about the day made me want to crawl under a rock until it was over. One day about ten years ago, my Godmother called me to wish me a happy day and I burst into tears. She spoke to me about the pride she felt when she watched me with my children, and that she knew my mother was watching with even more pride and how I should pass the joy of motherhood on to my offspring, not just the sadness of the loss. She told me that it was normal and acceptable to have a moment of sadness and recognition of the loss, but not to sit in it and watch the day pass without honoring myself and all of the other mothers and mother figures in my life. That same year my daughter’s Godmother talked to me about the love of a Mother and how her presence is strong and with us but we have to push aside the cloud of grief to see their light. She suggested that I ask her to manifest herself in some small way during the day and so I challenged her belief and I did. Later that afternoon my best friend’s mother showed up on my back porch (mom’s favorite spot ) with a beautiful bouquet of plants and flowers and also reminded me that this is a day not only of remembrance of my mom, but more importantly to celebrate and applaud myself. Mom had sent her most faithful messengers to me and I finally had no choice but to hear them loud and clear and drink in the love that she was offering through them.

I can’t say that the weeks leading up to the holiday aren’t still sometimes melancholy and that I don’t think of her more because of all of the commercialized sentiments, but I do three things leading up to mother’s day that keep me from being overwhelmed by the sadness that can envelop the holiday:

  1. I pamper myself : Last week, I put appointments in my calendar for a massage, manicure and pedicure. I also made arrangements to take a mini-retreat; a 24 hour stay-cation at a nearby hotel complete with wine, bubble bath, and as much sleep and relaxation I want without anyone yelling “mom” or bursting in my room, even if it is for a morning hug. As caretakers, our first priority should always be to check in with ourselves and make sure we take the time out to refuel every once in a while. I save $50 a month and put it into my Serenity Fund so that I can take a stay-cation at least four times a year. If you patronize a particular hotel each time you can end up with points and some of your retreats will cost you nothing.
  2. I purchase myself a gift that will arrive on or before Mother’s Day: In the last few years of my marriage, my ex would not even buy me a Mother’s Day gift. My children were babies so I would be disappointed to say the least. I realized then that I didn’t have to wait for another person to validate me as a mother and that I could do it for myself, so each year I purchase one gift that I wanted but had refrained from buying for myself, and I purchased one gift that I would probably have given to my Mother (almost always ends up being a pair of shoes!). This year, I replaced my worn out couch with a slightly used couch with two recliners. And I ordered three pairs of shoes. I honor myself and honor my Mother at the same time and receive twice the love. Win-win!
  3. I ask for Mom to “show up” and always expect a gift from her in the form of a mini-miracle: I never really felt my mom’s presence until months of grief therapy helped me get past the mild depression that set in after her loss. She was around but I wasn’t present. Now, I ask her to show up for me and she always does. And I always experience a random act of kindness from one of her angels here on earth. This year, the day before Mother’s day my shoes arrived and I got the sudden urge to rid my closet of old shoes I can’t or won’t wear any longer and to organize my closet to fit in all of the shoes that I can wear since my ankle fracture. It truly felt as if mom had taken over my body because I haven’t cleared out my bedroom closet in about ten years. Mom had so many shoes that she had each shoe box cataloged by number on her computer. Halfway through the project I smiled because I couldn’t deny that she was making her spirit known to me, and I thanked her for the beautiful gift of her presence! Most years I get several mini God-incidences (much more than a coincidence) or miracles, so far for this Mother’s Day I’ve received two. I have been wanting to replace my couch. I originally purchased it from a Thrift Store just to have something to sit on when my ex moved out and took the furniture with him. The couch was nothing fancy but it was cheap and comfortable and would suffice. A few weeks ago on a Yard Sale site I saw a double reclining sofa listed for several hundred dollars. I mentioned that I was interested but knew it was still not in my budget. A few days ago the woman contacted me saying the other buyer had backed out and she was dropping the price of this gently used couch (it retails new for over $700) down to $100. When I mentioned that I needed to find someone with a truck, she said she had a friend who could move it for me, no extra cost; mini miracle #1. Friday I went to the local Whole Foods to get fruit and thought about what I could get that was appetizing and also easy enough for the kids to cook me for Mother’s day. While browsing, a gentleman working at the fresh pasta counter invited me to consider some of their options. I started thinking that pasta would be easy enough for the kids to prepare especially since fresh pasta cooks so quickly. Before I could decide, the young man said that he would give me a sample of Ricotta Gnocchi to try at home and proceeded to fill up a small box of fresh pasta that I could take home at no cost to me! I picked up a small container of marinated and grilled chicken breast and just that quickly my Mother’s Day dinner dilemma had been resolved. I smiled again and said “thanks Mom”; mini miracle #2.

Some don’t believe in spirits or the after life or even that people transition and remain with us as energy, but I do. And even if you don’t, and you have or have had the experience of a Mother’s unconditional love, you should at least believe that she would not stop loving you or showing her love for you just because she is no longer physically able to do so. Mothers are God’s miracle workers and I don’t believe the miracles stop just because their earthly heart stops beating.

Wishing all of the caregivers of beautiful children, a beautiful day of love, gifts and miracles! And oh yes, shoes!!

Life (for Elizabeth) Original Poem 11/23/14

AngelandStaircaseLife ( for Elizabeth)

Your breath became my own

and you exhaled life’s elixir into my lungs

as I was yet being formed

Your dreams were etched into my DNA and each step you took created my legacy

You are life

No one can doubt a Mother’s love

It’s God’s favor manifested from above

Life’s shelter from our enemies

A Mother transforms herself often to be

Best friend and nurturer

Wife and reliable comforter

Steady and stern when necessary

With laughter sweet and colorful as ripe strawberries

You are Life

You will always be life

You will continue to love us

To help and encourage us

Your love transcends time and earth and breath

It is everlasting

It is omnipresent

Love is here

You are here

Your spirit remains here

With every breath we take

Because

You are life

(c) M. Tonita Austin aka Toni Love  11/23/14

I’m back!

It’s been several months since I’ve written anything on my blog and I apologize to my loyal followers for the long absence. It was just recently that I realized that I haven’t been able to write a thing since after my father passed. I tried to think about what other than the depth of grief you feel over the loss of someone who gave you life would keep me from picking up a pen. I’ve been to numerous open mic events, recited some of my poems and my creativity has been fueled by the multitude of talented and gifted artists that I’ve heard over the past few months. I celebrated my birthday this entire month even though my born date was on the 20th, and I haven’t isolated from friends or family, so why is it I don’t feel inspired to write?

And what I believe the answer is has something to do with control. Normally when I write, I know what I’m going to say, I know what picture I will use and usually how it will end all before I sit down at my laptop. I am in full control for the most part. Yet grief does not lend itself to such consistency. Grief is less predictable than an ocean wave, and  just as powerful when it hits. I can almost assure you that it will rear it’s ugly head a week or so before any major holiday and the birthdays of my parents who were born two days apart. And then sometimes it is equally as unpredictable. Sometimes I feel passionate about something (or someone) and I feel the urge to write and a piece of mail comes through my doorway with his name on it, or I need to take care of his last cable bill, and I lose the urge to create. As the administrator of my father’s will, I have numerous  duties  to perform which alone can be exhausting. My daughter struggles with closure after his sudden death and I sink deep into grief for a while as I empathize and help her to understand and honor his transition. And it think it hurts a little deeper when I look around and see that not only are both my parents gone, but both sets of grandparents as well, and grief tells me that I’m all alone. Ebbs and flows..ups and downs..highs and lows..around and around. When will it end? I don’t know but I have begun to pray for the willingness to let go of my high expectations for myself. I pray for the strength to bounce back from this sudden and profound loss; that I don’t have to do it perfectly or feel happy to write, and that it’s okay to feel what I feel for however long I need to feel it. And I can take the time to heal from it all and I’m worth it.

I am writing now from a beautiful beach home that I’m sharing with some family and friends, listening to the waves crash as I summon my dad’s spirit to guide me and encourage me. I wasn’t sure at first about sharing a house with a dozen people, but somehow the combination of the calm and the chaos awakened my spirit. And the love and laughter abound as a warm healing balm for my soul.

So I don’t have anything fabulously witty or poetic to write just yet, but I am thankful that once again I am writing, and that is a huge step in the right direction for me. Just for today, I am moving forward remembering that it’s progress, not perfection.

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My Angels always show up for the after-party…

It’s just a part of my reality now. I’ve accepted the heartache that wells up inside my soul when the Mother’s Day commercials start to pour in. Even though I am a mother, and I get my props this time of year from the media (and boy how that makes me feel valued!), I still feel the abandonment. It’s been over a decade but I still want to be able to buy a card, deliver it, and get a big warm hug. So each year about a week before the holiday, I fall into a slight emotional and physical slump. It’s usually unsuspected because each year I think it’s going to be the last, but you never get over your first love.

It used to hit me like a ton of bricks, but now I’m so used to it and have accepted it that I plan the party. My pity party that is. Poor me. I lost mom at such a young age, I have no living grandparents and my heart aches for my kids who did not get to experience her here on this plane. I feel overwhelmed. I feel alone. I feel sad. And I feel like crawling up under my covers and not coming out until someone else arrives.  I put on my terry cloth robe, some warm socks, get a good glass of red wine and some chocolate (preferably with ice cream too) and find a few tear-jerker movies to watch on television. My preference is Beaches, Terms of Endearment and Steel Magnolias – always sure to envoke a good, deep soul-wrenching cry. Of course I never invite anyone to my pity party, or it wouldn’t be as meaningful. It’s usually ended with not much sleep and I feel the emotional hangover the next day or so until I decide the party is over or someone needs their tutu or baseball pants cleaned right away. And somewhere between the tears or the chocolate, I ask my Creator to help me embrace joy again and I ask Mom to show up somehow during the week to let me know I am not alone.  The alarm rings, the kids have to get to school, and I have to get back to work. Back to reality.

And as inevitable as the pity party, so is the after party. And my angels always tend to show up and deliver ten-fold!

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