Ritual Farewell

 

ritual: any practice or pattern of behavior regularly performed in a set manner

Helping her change into her nightgown,
waiting as she washed face, brushed teeth.
Tucking her into bed, I would sit alongside,
talk quietly about siblings, children,
tomorrow and what would come
in those coming hours.

Would smooth sheets and blankets
over her, while she waited silent
and patient. Lean down to kiss
parchment-thin skin of cheek
lifting to meet my lips, as I whispered,
“I love you, Mom.” And she would
whisper back, “I love you, too.”

Moving toward the door, I’d hear
her say in pretended sternness,
“Remember, I want you to behave.”
Turning back with a smile, would
dutifully tell her, “I will,
if you do it first.”
Grinning now, she’d say,
“It’s really hard, but I’ll try…”
ending our ritural with a soft sigh
and slight giggle.

Lost, I no longer know how to behave
in early evening light, as empty wind
of restlessness chases me with its echo
of soft almost whispers, parchment-thin kisses
and even softer giggles.

Elizabeth Crawford  6/14/10

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About 1sojournal

Loves words and language. Dances on paper to her own inner music. Loves to share and keeps several blogs to facilitate that. They can be found here: http://1sojournal.wordpress.com/ https://soulsmusic.wordpress.com/ http://claudetteellinger.wordpress.com/
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10 Responses to Ritual Farewell

  1. cocoknight1 says:

    A powerful, and well written Poem! The imagery is alive as it is read, returning us all to moments past, that cannot be got back, Living on solely in our memories of “better times”. All too often we take such simple pleasures, such common “rituals” for granted, until they are gone. Only then do we realize how IMPORTANT the little things are, and all else seems less urgent.

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  2. 1sojournal says:

    Thank you, Elron,

    although my idea about all of this is a bit different, your intrepretation is just as good. I knew my Mother was dying, didn’t know from one day to the next, if the ritual we participated in would be the last time. In essence, the ritual became the farewell and it was real and rich in meaning that I carry into my future. Thanks for stopping and for commenting.

    Elizabeth

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  3. Mary says:

    Elizabeth, this poem is so very touching! It was nice that you and your mother had this ritual every night. There is comfort in rituals, and I am sure that looking back at it now gives you some comfort as well, knowing that it was important to both of you…and done with love.

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  4. 1sojournal says:

    Mary,

    thank you for taking time to read and comment. I didn’t realize, until afterward, how comforting the ritual would be. Now, as I look back, what I feel is the warmth, the teasing and quiet laughter, and all those soft giggles. I will always miss her, but she left me a gift that is priceless.

    Elizabeth

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  5. Susan B says:

    Elizabeth: The poem is gentle and touching. Thank you. It reminds me of the rituals my mother and I had as she lay dieing and gives me much more comfort than I thought was possible from another person’s words. Good to have you back here, too.

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  6. 1sojournal says:

    Thank you so much Susan,

    Although the poem ends on a lost note, it brings me a deep sense of comfort as well. Glad someone else felt/feels the same. I truly believe that this one was the result of the gift my Mother and I created with that ritual. The writing itself, was the unwrapping of that gift and will be treasured for years to come.

    ELizabeth

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  7. Linda Goin says:

    What a beautiful poem and story. Funny, as I read it, I didn’t think about my mother (who now is 75), but I thought of myself as the mother and you as my daughter. The reason, I think, is that my relationship with my daughter is so much more loving on so many levels…much like the relationship you show here. Thank you.

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  8. 1sojournal says:

    Hi Linda,

    My sisters are want to tell me that Mom teased me more than anyone else. And I tell them that’s because I laugh like our Dad did, from deep in the belly. I am the one out of four who takes after his side of the family. I was also the one that gave her the most troubling episodes. I moved back here, three years ago, to help care for her and I will never regret doing so. I have three daughters of my own, and spent a great deal of time thinking about those relationships as I took care of my Mother. I learned a great deal and she gave me many gifts in the process, not the least of which is a deeper sense of self as both Mother and Daughter.

    Thank you so much for taking time to read and comment. I love the fact that Writer’s Island has reopened and look forward to much more participation,

    Elizabeth

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  9. Elizabeth, this poem about your mother shows such love. I am so sorry for your loss. I can see that you miss her greatly!

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  10. 1sojournal says:

    Diane, yes I miss her, but most often when I think of her, I find myself smiling, remembering her humor and her teasing. When the poem was first written, I was just coming to the realization that I now had an awful lot of time to do whatever, and I was a bit lost at the feeling that I must now find other ways to fill it. That is a process that has already been put into affect. She is with me, encouraging me, and teasing me about thinking a bit too much.

    Thank you for your thoughtful comment,

    Elizabeth

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