This is a story about a mother’s love for her daughter, and about gifts of celebration and compassion given through creative expression. It is also about a daughter still cherishing these gifts, still cherishing the mother who gave them, more than seventy years later. The first gift was a poem the mother wrote to mark her daughter’s wedding in 1940.
The bits of this story that I know and am about to share with you, dear readers, have been entrusted to me by a friend I first met nearly sixty years ago.
My Connection (a brief summary)
My own little side tale begins in 1955 when I began public school. My first grade teacher created a stimulating learning environment where she taught us to read and to print and to begin playing with numbers. She nurtured our minds and spirits. She was sweet and patient and fair. I adored her. I’m pretty sure everyone in our class adored her. Two years later, she mentored my mother in what would now be called the homeschooling of my younger sister for first grade. Next, she was my sister’s second grade teacher. She held a very special place in the hearts of all in my family.
When I left that elementary school, I didn’t see my teacher while I attended seventh through twelfth grades in other schools. In fact, it was about 35 years after first grade that our paths crossed again. We both lived in a different state than we had previously, and we discovered we had both been volunteers with the same local hospice organization.
It was a shift for me to learn to call her Ellen. Of course, “Mrs.” had been her first name when I was her student. She moved to California in 1995, and we kept in touch, at least writing for Christmas. I noticed that all of her lovely stationery was made from prints of the paintings and drawings she created. Here is a photo I took of one of her notecards.
Ellen is now in her mid-nineties. In the past several years, she and I have been connecting primarily by email. I have shared my excitement with her as I published each of the three Love Revealed books. She reads the posts on this blog and sometimes emails comments to me about them.
Ellen’s Mother Wrote a Poem for Her
Ellen’s mother, Ethel S. Mims, gave her the following poem in 1940, when Ellen wed her sweetheart. Through her verses, we can feel the love Ethel holds for her daughter.
“If I could penetrate the azure mists
That separate my child from me
And know that all is well with her and him
Whom she loves best on earth,
Then I could go about my work with ease
For God intended it should be that way,
That those who love must build a home some day.
“If I could see through distant haze
And know that she and he
Would, all their days,
Be happy in each other’s love,
Then I would be content
For I would know that it was meant above.”
~ ~ ~
The loving young couple said their vows in late December, 1940. Sadly, Ellen’s husband died thirteen days later. There was an abscess on his brain.
A Mother’s Gifts for a Daughter’s Breaking Heart
The following three poems were written by Ethel for her daughter, who had been a wife for too short a time. When reading Ethel’s words, she is at times writing as if expressing Ellen’s feelings or thoughts. Seeing this, I wondered if Ethel had already lost her own husband; she was spot on about certain feelings of losing a mate. Ellen said that her father lived till 1980. She wrote to me, “He and all of our family kept me from losing my mind.”
1st grief poem:
“We do not need to see beyond
The vale of human woe
To feel our loved ones near us
As we tread the earth below.
For released from all the cares
And fears and tears of earthly life
They hover close about us
As we battle with the strife.
“We cannot touch or feel or see
The human form again,
But we know they’re ever present
When we would commune with them.
So let us go on bravely
And do our work each day
And help our needy brothers
Along life’s hard highway.
For only by doing for others day by day
Can we feel that peace and quiet
That enables us to say,
O God, Thou great and holy One
We know Thou are omnipotent.”
2nd grief poem:
“The days stretch on into the lonely years;
The future looks so bleak and drear
What use to waste my time in futile tears
About the things that once my heart held dear.
“I idle with my brush and pen
Then toy with my needle
And wonder why in all this world of men
My lot was just to love and lose again.
“I turn in agony of thought
To that brief time we had together
And of the lessons love has taught
There seems no end, no way to measure.
“If I could only stroke his hair again
Or see his look,
But all those dear familiar things
Are buried deep in memories book.
“Where I can take them out again at will
And feel his love
And know that he is with me still
3rd grief poem:
” ‘Tis spring! The trees are bursting into bud
And everywhere the air is filled
With birds’ sweet music notes and trills
And only I am sad.
“I should not feel so lone I know
For every day dear friends and loved ones show
Their kind regard for me;
And other lives are filled with woe
Who are not so warmed and fed as I and so
I am determined to be glad.”
~ ~ ~
Ethel’s poetry carries timeless support and insight. Her emotions and wisdom continue to shine through her writing, still embracing Ellen with love as well as rippling out to many more people now. It reveals Mother-Daughter love and it brings messages of Living Through Grief, which are both book topics in our Love Revealed series.
Imagine how your words and actions and other caring gifts might affect your loved ones now and even for very many more years.
Ellen, over the miles I am sending you virtual hugs of love and appreciation. Thank you for sharing from both your heart and your mother’s heart, in letting her poems emerge into the world where people might experience comfort, celebration, and love from reading them.
Readers, if you want to write a comment to Ellen, please use the Comments section here OR go to the Connect page to use the Contact Us form. I will make sure she has a chance to read any notes.
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