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Five Poems for My Mother

by James A. Tweedie

Poet’s Note: My mother, Marjorie Schlatter Tweedie, passed away on June 18 at the age of 101. She was still mentally alert, moving about with her walker and attending church until she fell ill six weeks before she breathed her last. I was able to fly to California for a final visit several days before she died. Over the years I wrote many poems for her, some of them in first person as if she were speaking them herself. Several of them made reference to my father, Herbert Tweedie, who passed away in 1993. My mother has been eagerly, and not always patiently, waiting for her turn to come.

My extended family will gather on August 20 to celebrate her life and lay her to rest beside my father—a grave that also contains the remains of my father’s parents and which will one day hold my remains, as well.

In honor of my mother I am sharing five of the poems that I wrote for her. The final poem (which I wrote at the airport after seeing her for the last time) is the only one she never read. Grim as it may seem, I have no doubt that it would have made her smile.

The poem, “One Day Soon,” will be read at the conclusion of her graveside service.

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Dressed to Live

The long and winding roads of life
That elder folks, like me, have travelled
Leave us feeling disassembled,
Frayed and broken, torn, unraveled.

Growing older takes its toll
On flesh and bone and skin and hair.
Teeth that once were white have yellowed,
Skin, now splotched, was smooth and fair.

Balding heads and gnarled fingers,
Eyes now dim that once were clearer
Well-describe what seniors see
When looking in the bathroom mirror.

Backs that ache and joints that creak,
Weary, worn, exhausted, tired.
Not at all what life was like
“Back when,” before our youth expired.

Yes, we save on “Senior Menus,”
Yes, we join AARP.
Eloquent reminders of
Our imminent mortality.

Yet behind our aging frames
Are hints of immortality,
Signs of hope that on the day
We die our souls will be set free.

Every day is one-day closer
To that day of reckoning
When I hope that I will hear
The voice of Jesus beckoning.

He paid the price of death yet lived,
His risen life is my receipt—
Assurance that my road of life
Is not, if fact, a dead-end street.

My worn-out body, like old clothes
Will be a shell that I will slough.
And then my soul shall rise and I
Will enter heaven in the buff.

But as I enter I will be
Re-clothed for all eternity
And make my fashion week debut
Un-frayed, unbroken, whole, made new.

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One-Way Flight

Here at the departure gate
I take my place within the queue.
Bored to death I stand and wait
With nothing much for me to do.

Passport’s ready, visa, too,
A one-way ticket in my hands.
“Flight delayed,” “Plane over-due.”
I’m biding time until it lands.

Watching day fade into night;
My life on hold within the gloom.
Killing time before my flight
While waiting in that waiting room.

Patiently I wait and dream
Of sitting in a First-Class seat,
Eating chocolate chip ice cream,
My miles redeemed, my joy complete.

Although it’s tempting to complain,
I’ll pray, instead, “Thy kingdom come;”
Until at last I board the plane
That God will send to take me home.

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Hear My Prayer, O Lord

A Psalm

Lord, I lift my prayer to you;
Bend your ear and hear my plea.
Fill my heart with what is true;
Speak, O Lord, and answer me.

Once I gladly gave my all,
Serving you was glorious.
Now my life’s slowed to a crawl,
And each step’s laborious.

Every day I wake and rise;
Every day I sit and wait;
Waiting for my own demise,
Hoping to gain heaven’s gate.

There is no place I can go!
What is there for me to do?
Frail and feeble, old and slow—
How on earth can I serve you?

Lord, I read your Word each day,
In the morning, evening, too.
When I’m done, I pause to pray,
Lifting up my thoughts to you.

I’m no longer what I was—
Once a Martha, “busy bee.”
Now I sit and sit, because,
Mary is much more like me.

While I sit at Jesus’ feet
Younger Marthas take my place,
Serving up the soup and meat
While I gaze on Jesus’ face.

Answer, Lord! I lift my voice!
What did Jesus have to say?
“Mary made the better choice!”
Maybe sitting is okay!

Up to heaven goes my prayer.
Someday soon, Lord, lead me there!

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One Day Soon

Great God of love whose Spirit calls to me
And bids me stand before your Throne of Grace—
Each day I yearn for your eternity;
To know the fullness of your love’s embrace;

To stand before the Lamb of God and sing!
To worship, praise and glorify his name!
And then to bow before my Lord and King,
My Savior God—His wonders to proclaim!

I do not know if he will call today
Or if it is his will that I should wait,
I only know that he will have his way,
And one day soon I’ll pass through heaven’s gate.

Lord Jesus, grant me peace until in death
I rise—no longer old but born anew.
Then breathe on me your resurrection breath
And lead me home to heaven, Herb, and you.

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Perhaps at Last She’ll Die

My mother’s lived a good, long life.
__Perhaps, at last she’ll die.
A daughter, sister, mother, wife
__She’s been as time’s passed by.

She’s lived to be one hundred one,
__Which means she’s lived a lot.
But now that life is almost done,
__Her “good fight” has been fought.

She’s breathing but the breathing’s hard,
__But when that breathing ends
She’ll trade her bed for heaven’s yard
__With family and friends.

For all of them have passed before;
__She’ll be the last to go.
And greeting her at heaven’s door
__Will be her Herb, also.

From dust we’re made, of dust we are,
__To dust we shall return.
But dust can take us just so far,
__A lesson we all learn.

So, “Good-bye, Mom.” You passed the test
__Of what a Mom should be.
Among all moms you’ve been the best—
__The mom you’ve been for me!

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James A. Tweedie is a retired pastor living in Long Beach, Washington. He has written and published six novels, one collection of short stories, and three collections of poetry including Mostly Sonnets, all with Dunecrest Press. His poems have been published nationally and internationally in The Lyric, Poetry Salzburg (Austria) Review, California Quarterly, Asses of Parnassus, Lighten Up Online, Better than Starbucks, WestWard Quarterly, Society of Classical Poets, and The Chained Muse.


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14 Responses

  1. Margaret Coats

    Thanks, James, for these poet’s memorials of “the mom you’ve been to me.” She and you are right that time never need be wasted when prayer (or poetry) is possible. Tomorrow, may your poem inspire living members of the family to treasure thoughts of Marjorie Schlatter Tweedie for a long time.

    Reply
  2. Paul Freeman

    Though sad, I’m sure tomorrow will be a joyous occasion, what with all the fond memories to celebrate and remember your mum’s life.

    The poem you’ll read is a fine tribute. Those final two stanzas are particularly moving.

    Thanks for the reads, James.

    Reply
  3. Mary Ekpenyong

    Beautiful poems! I cherish the mother-child relationship beneath each stanza. Above all, I cherish the joy and hope of eternal life in Christ expressed by late Marjorie through her poet son. This is a rare art. I join the family to celebrate her life and transition.

    Reply
  4. Mary Gardner

    These are lovely poems, James.
    Please accept my sympathy on the passing of dear Marjorie. May the Lord grant solace to you and your family. Memory eternal.

    Reply
  5. Stuti

    Thank you for sharing these, James.
    My sympathies for your loss.
    She is immortalized beautifully in each one of these poems.

    Reply
  6. Julian D. Woodruff

    James, This collection is a lovely tribute, with the calm, sure flow of words your poetry always shows. Such a long-lasting intertwining of your mother’s life and yours must be something to ponder.

    Reply
  7. Brian Yapko

    James, this is indeed a suite of lovely poems — a very loving and moving tribute to your mother, to your relationship with her and to both of your relationships with God. May her memory bring you much joy.

    Reply
  8. Roy E. Peterson

    I am drawn to your poems about and related to the relationship between you and your mom. These are highly fitting elegies of remembrance and future reuniting! Beautifully done!

    Reply
  9. jd

    Yes, thank you for sharing your poems and
    also letting us know your mother a bit, James.
    May she rest in peace and may you be
    comforted in knowing that she is at last
    where she wanted to be.

    Reply
  10. David Watt

    James, your group of poems are a moving tribute to your mother. Strength of faith, and the strength of your relationship are evident in these lines.

    Reply

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