June 29 — My Mother’s Gift

by Andrea Savee

WHEN I DIE by Beulah Irene Hagedorn

When I die
close my eyes.
I will have
gone away.
Keep the news
quiet.
My departure will be
unnoticed,
except to you
who hear me
and watch.

Be quiet yourselves.
Hold no public services.
Sing a song
you like,
and deal with loss
your way.
I will watch.

Let no one look
at my empty body.
Give it back
to the earth,
quickly, quietly
and move on.
God watches.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

1921 by Beulah Irene Hagedorn

No one
came
to the
chamber
where
I waited
inviting
me
to be born.

I slid
down
the corridor
and entered
this side
of life
in a small
square room,
out
of a
nineteen
year old girl
to a
twenty year old
boy
who held
me and
whispered
“welcome”.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

My mother wrote these poems in June of her seventy-ninth year. My mother, Beulah Irene Hagedorn, died June twenty third, two thousand four, six days before her eighty-third birthday. She left me all the words she’d ever written.

A flat rectangular dress-box bulges with hundreds of pieces of yellowing paper of various sizes. She began writing at age sixty following the end of her thirty year marriage. She wrote to save her life and her sanity, always in her usual elegant and steady script.

In the last decade of her life, she spent many months assembling a photo album in the large upstairs bonus room of her house. Pressed between the plastic sheets aren’t photos, but typed pages of poems, thoughts, remembrances filled with sorrow and grief, rantings and regrets. Eventually, reconciliations, revelations, and peace:

“I stayed and faced my demons where I had created them, where I found them–in the bedroom, at the dining table, in my children’s eyes, my ex-father-in-law’s groans, my ex-mother-in-law’s strained struggle to cope, and the dark accusing hours when my inner voices badgered me into hell and back. Finally, I walked through the night into the day repeating a litany of God’s promises of love and forgiveness, forgiving everyone in memory until I came to myself.”

I grew up hearing a fairy tale that turned out to be the story of my own beginning. She recorded this on one of her pages:

“My fourth child was conceived on August twenty seven, nineteen hundred and fifty nine because I knew from an unknown source deep within me that there was a child who would be a special gift to me.”

I grew up hearing my mother’s story from its beginning and living it with her to its end. In my hands now is her life in her own words de-constructed and re-constructed on the page. Words no one else has ever read. Until now.

Andrea Savee lives in Lakewood, California with her husband, Mike, and their cat, Chico. Retired from a career in business, Andrea enjoys traveling and writing. Her work has appeared in SCN journals and anthologies.

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7 responses to “June 29 — My Mother’s Gift

  1. Your mother was a gifted writer whose depth of emotion and breadth of thought fed that gift. It must be painful for you to read some of her work.
    We do not think of our mothers as writers or as women whose inner lives are filled with anything other than what they choose to show us. Thank you for showing us part of your mother’s inner self.

  2. Wow! Thank you so much for sharing. What powerful images you evoke. Appreciatively, Dianna

  3. Thank you Marahm and Dianna. The mother I knew so well is the mother in her journals. No surprises. Reading her words is like having a conversation with her again. However, reading letters she wrote to my father beginning the year I was born is tough. The desperate young woman in those letters is someone I’m only now years after her death ready to meet.

  4. It was wonderful
    to read your
    mother’s
    evocative words
    and those
    of
    her
    daughter.

  5. Thank you, Nancilyn, for your comments.
    I loved The Magnolia Tree, by the way.

  6. Beautiful poems and lovely story. What a wonderful gift to have your mother’s writing, to see her as a woman in all her roles. thank you so much for sharing this story.

  7. Thank you for reading my post, Carol. As I think and feel my way through middle age with its changing roles, I appreciate even more the lessons to be revisited from my mom’s fierce and brave transitions.

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