My Mom stopped by my apartment later in the day and we read together: Her husband Al loved her completely, deeply, and unconditionally. His poem to her was: “This I will remember, when my life is through, the best thing I have ever done is simply loving you. Good-bye honey, my sweetheart, my pretty girl. I will always love you.”

My folks are in their early eighties, and they too have a true love affair. We always joke about how lost my Dad would be without my Mom, but it’s really no joke. It’s not just that my Dad doesn’t know where the washing machine is, they truly live for each other.

My Mom tells me that Dad wrote her a love poem. She showed it to me; she carries it in her wallet. It’s a yellowed clipping from a newspaper and my Dad scratched out “anonymous” and wrote in his name as the author. It’s a reflection by a husband on why he has a happy marriage. He gives all the credit to his wife, who is “whip-smart” and understands him completely.

I think my Mom wanted to tell me about it just in case anything should happen. It’s not like I would have to dig up material for her funeral. My Mom was the “honoree” during the wedding toasts when my daughter got married. She said no one has to write a eulogy for her, because all of the speeches gave accolades to her that night. But, she worries— because she feels deeply. Is that what happens when you get older? She feels every ache and pain, like never before. Her time spent with her grand kids and great-grands is beyond joyful, it’s like watching the over and over again.

Intensity. That’s what a deep true love is and that’s what living a happy life feels like. A subtle fear of knowing what you have to lose. A constant awareness of just how blessed you are. I think of Ricki and all the other 2 inch segments of life stories I read about in the obituaries. I give thanks to God, for lives worth living, love felt deeply, and dear sweet memories.

For Debbie Miller Antkowiak and all the daughters who miss their mother today:


Nobody loves you like your mother.
Fussing with your hat, doling out superfluous advice:
"Stand up straight!" "Look both ways!"
Putting up with our selective amnesia
as we forget to bring home our report card—again.

I want to know her back story,
what she gave up for me.
Help me understand the woman she was.
Allow me to dream her dreams,
the ones she put on a shelf so I could fly.
She wanted so much more for me than she ever had.

Show me the grace to remember the times fondly,
when she harped on me, and pulled my strings.
I'll make my own music, inspired by her,
knowing she stands proudly in the wings.


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