A Curl So Black and Soft
Once upon a time
my mother was a little girl;
Once upon a time.
My mother lost her mother when she was five years old.
Her father was a quiet Englishman
who loved her very much.
My mother’s mother died when she was five years old
and no one told her for months.
She cried and cried and cried,
“Where is Mother?”
And no one answered.
I have heard this story countless times from the family.
My mother finally threw a fit while her father was washing her
beautiful black hair.
“Your mother went to sleep and she will never wake up.”
I have heard family members say to my mother,
“I think it was her pregnancy with you that did it,
something just went wrong.”
I have heard this said in front of my mother too many times to count.
My Grandmother lost a child, Eleanor Mary, before giving birth to my mother.
My mother was a Gift to her mother.
When it came time to move my mother to the first nursing home
after her 24 day medical detox at Denver General,
I found in her things
small, yellowed envelopes with delicate hand writing on each one;
“Mary Kay’s first haircut
May 1st, 1939”
I found envelope after envelope with this
beautiful handwriting on them
I opened one recently, before my mother died.
I opened it very carefully.
Inside is a curl tied with ribbon,
a curl so black and soft.
I can see, in my mind’s eye, my Grandmother
Gently snipping the curls, carefully tying the ribbon
and sitting at the desk that stood in my mother’s
room at the nursing home,
and writing with Love on each envelope.
My mother was deeply loved by her mother.
My mother was her gift;
and her mother was taken away.
On the day my mother died,
After Phil reminded me to be quiet,
I chose my words carefully.
I told her;
“I found the envelopes Mommy. The envelopes with your curls
and the ribbons and your mother’s handwriting so delicate.
She loved you Mommy. Your mother loved you deeply.”
Later in the day I said,
“Mommy, your mother will be there to meet you.
Mommy, she has been waiting all these years to hold you again.”
The curls, the curls of black hair, handwriting on envelope after envelope,
remind me that my mother, perhaps,
In that in between space between here
was not alone.
My mother was loved.
She was loved by my father and by her mother;
Both taken before she was ready.
I hope that they were there, where ever there is, to take her hand.
My mother was loved deeply.
I will sleep tonight holding this tight.
Peace to you on this fine Christmas Eve, Jen