“Clean lines of wash by Monday noon”. This was my reply to a yearly ritual my mum and I shared on countless Mother’s Days. It was my response when she announced in her thick, Scottish accent: “That wee poem’s in the paper again”.
For as many years as I remember, a beautiful poem appeared in the newspaper each Mother’s Day, lovingly placed by a daughter in memory of her mother. My mum and I would read it together and wonder about the story behind the poem and the significance it played in the life of this mother and daughter.
The first anniversary of my mum’s physical death is today, the day after Mother’s Day, however we lost each other long before May 15, 2016.
Dementia had made a long, slow, and ugly decent into her mind, and took the mother I knew long before death took her body. This disease changed her in so many ways and for so long, I often have trouble remembering the mum I know and love.
Reading this poem gives me comfort and brings back many happy memories of the mother who raised me and the woman she was before illness claimed her mind and stole her from herself and the people she loved.
I don’t have clean lines of wash, but I do have teapots, and old books, and I adore spoiling small children. My mum lives on in these rituals for as long as she has me for a daughter.
This is the poem:
“Something of you I own and wear,
Curve of mouth, colour of hair.
And other things that Time proves true
Are part of me, and were part of you.
Clean lines of wash by Monday noon,
A whistle for worry, a quarter moon.
Spoiling children and such small things
As teapots, bracelets, and silver rings.
Old books and lilacs faint cool rosewater –
In these you live on as long as a daughter
Has tongue to tell and heart to hold
This curious coin of mother gold.
Something of you I wear and own,
Frail as a dream, certain as stone.” - Gladys McKee