Hands Tell Stories

I look at the woman’s (Elizabeth is her name, ironically the same as my mother’s) hands sitting next to me. Suddenly, my eyes are filled with tears. It is heavy, fast — how they fill. I think of my mother’s hands. I see my mother’s hands: her wrinkles, blue veins.

Elizabeth’s sunken patches of skin embrace me, almost strangle me with emotion. It takes me several minutes to collect myself. I’m almost ready to excuse myself from the meeting because of the hot tears.

I calm down as I write, sure not to look at her hands anytime soon.

* I wrote that in my journal two years ago. I was cleaning out a closet, procrastinating studying.  I have been studying and preparing for a huge presentation/training I am doing. I thought that was a poignant journal entry and well-written if I say so myself. OK — back to procrastinating and organizing my closet.

Red Socked Toes

Death moves

slowing in

a nursing home

creeping softly

with red

socked toes


out of opened


Hunched over

in wheelchairs

waiting for


death could

be more exciting

than the actual wait

sitting here with Betty

and a nameless

old lady

I asked her

her name

her matted

pink gums

holding in

her smile.

I wrote this poem May 28, 2011 while I was visiting my mother in a nursing home. She has since passed away. I found a notebook titled “Light” and decided to share since it’s National Poetry Month.

#MyMomMonday #mmm

Let’s celebrate our moms on Monday. If you would like to join me in a celebration of your mother, create a collage to honor her and/or remember her and add hashtag #mymommonday and/or #mmm. It can be similar to #tbt or #throwbackthursday.

I created this collage in my writing and technology integration class.

I made this Pixlr collage in class after writing about my dream room. In my dream room, my mother is still alive.

I made this Pixlr collage in class after writing about my dream room. In my dream room, my mother is still alive.

This is an explanation of my dream room collage: “I wanted to share Pixlr collage I made in my technology and writing integration class. The writing assignment was to visualize our dream room. The professor read prompts for us to visualize our dream room. I tried to stay in the seaside room with the white sheer curtains blowing in the breeze, but I slipped back to Maxwell Ave.’s living room in Cheyenne where both my parents were sitting in their chairs — drinking coffee, smoking butts, and telling stories. They made me laugh. They were imperfect lovely people. They were mine. I miss them both, but my mother’s absence hurts the most in a way I can’t really explain.”

Here is a collage I created with old photos (the ones you hold in your hands).

#MyMomMonday Collage 1

#MyMomMonday Collage 1

Here is an excerpt from my dream room writing exercise:

In my dream room, my mom is with me. I can smell her breath as she talks to me — cigarettes and coffee and the taste of laughter on my lips. No one could ever make me laugh like she did.

My belly often ached after sessions with her in the kitchen nook. We’d chain-smoke and drink pots of coffee. She told me so many stories I jotted down in anecdotal notations, written zigzag and crooked across college ruled spiral notebooks. My mother’s stories are mirrors I can’t look into anymore. Too young, too selfish, too preoccupied to have written them down as I should have done. Instead, I long to go back and sit in the kitchen nook.


Recently, I have discovered a small cassette tape that was labeled “Mom.”  I hoped it contained all her stories as I had begun to write (or tape record) her memoirs in the early 2000’s. Yet I couldn’t find a tape recorder. A friend from high school mailed me one. Sara knew my mom well from many weekend soccer trips on our traveling select team. In fact, Betty may have told Sara off; it was something that happened often. Betty sometimes could be difficult, but it can’t be denied, she was honest. She was born and bred in New York City.

The tape was empty. I could not hear her voice or her stories. I have been filled with sadness all week.  I want to remember her dialogue, her cadence, her laughter; I want to recreate it, for it is gone. I do have her voice recorded on my digital recorder and from phone messages. One message I play often is quite simple. Just a voice message calling me about being sick.  She says, “Hi. It’s Mom. Last time we talked you weren’t feeling too well and I was just checking on you. I hope you’re feeling peachy dandy. Love , Mother.”

So, come on. Let’s heal our grief together and/or celebrate our moms. If your mom is alive or alive in your memory or you want to reignite a fading memory — post a photo or make a collage, write a memory down, put some words together, or just remember her quietly.

#MMM #MyMomMonday. Let’s make it a thing. Pass it on.