Un-Hallmark Mother

05 May

Un-Hallmark Mother

While I gifted icon carnations
and Hallmark lines, “Mother” to me
smelled of duty and mothball wisdom.
She my root of conscience, scruple

permission to pursue the chaotic
then, like her, to sort and label.
I lived for her sideways compliments
overheard in conversations with her friends.

Her widow-grief broke down walls:
She was fellow-woman.
Our friendship rooted, blossomed—
she was always so good with flowers.

At the end when she needed help
even to get dressed
my heart pinged for her
like she was one of my kids.

© 2016 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)


Store-bought cards do express a sweet dimension of motherhood, but the real thing is always much more complex. I would be lying if I said my relationship with my mom was all good. We clashed sometimes during my teen years—and beyond. But we worked through our rough spots and became more than friends. It was a relationship that changed with the times and seasons. Mom died ten years ago this June. Does a daughter ever get over not having her mom around?

The photos are of one of our last outings in May 2006. Hubby and I drove her down to White Rock Beach, took her out for lunch, walked to the bear statue at the end of the path, went to the end of the pier, and posed her under the spring blossoms she loved so much.

Poetry Friday LogoThis post is linked to Poetry Friday hosted today by Sylvia Vardell at her blog Poetry for Children.


Posted by on May 5, 2016 in Personal, Poetry Friday


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

26 responses to “Un-Hallmark Mother

  1. Irene Latham

    May 6, 2016 at 5:18 am

    I think we miss our mothers forever — which is actually a pretty Hallmarky sentiment. 🙂 Thank you for sharing, Violet! xo


    • Violet Nesdoly

      May 6, 2016 at 5:34 am

      *Grin* – that’s true! Thanks, Irene. And a Happy Mother’s Day to you!!


  2. jama

    May 6, 2016 at 5:52 am

    Love the poem and photos, and your honest sentiment. I agree we never get over losing our mothers, and the mother-daughter relationship is a very complex one. I know what you mean about those sideways compliments only too well, too.


    • Violet Nesdoly

      May 6, 2016 at 6:56 am

      Thanks, Jama! Re those sideways compliments – I believe my mom’s generation believed that you could spoil a child, give her a swelled head, if you said too many nice things to her face. It was a time with different values. But love comes through one way or another, doesn’t it?


  3. cvarsalona

    May 6, 2016 at 8:06 am

    I also stopped to think about your “sideway comments.” Remembering mothers is wondering for we can idolize them for all the positive influences on our lives. Wonderful thoughts, Violet!


  4. Linda Baie

    May 6, 2016 at 10:43 am

    Yes, I miss my mother a lot, and our later relationship became a phone call most of the year. I still can hear her voice. Now, my daughter and I talk nearly daily, although we live just across town, & I do love that, too. I love seeing the pictures, Violet, and the “un-Hallmark” sentiment, nonetheless love-filled.


    • Violet Nesdoly

      May 6, 2016 at 3:43 pm

      “I can still hear her voice…” Yes, me too. (And sometimes it’s coming from my own vocal cords!) I’m sure you daughter appreciates your close relationship. Hope you have a fabulous Mother’s Day, Linda!


  5. Donna Smith

    May 6, 2016 at 2:22 pm

    Sometimes I think that “sideways” compliments were better for kids. Somewhere in the middle would be nice!
    Sure miss my mom. You NEVER outgrow your need for mom!


    • Violet Nesdoly

      May 6, 2016 at 4:01 pm

      Thanks, Donna! You’re probably right about the sideways compliments being a good thing. I know it kept me on my toes (as well as listening with interest to adult conversations). Hope your Mother’s Day is wonderful (even though you can’t celebrate it with your mother).


  6. svardell

    May 7, 2016 at 9:07 am

    Hi, Violet, and thank you for joining our Poetry Friday gathering. Your honest tribute to your own mother is genuine and lovely. I appreciate how you address the sometimes-complicated nature of our relationships with our mothers. True for me, too!


  7. Brenda Davis Harsham

    May 7, 2016 at 9:20 am

    I lost my early too early to remember the sound of her voice. And my hands are trembling as I type at the thought. Pain of loss is a common human condition for which we can all comport each other. I remember the good times with fondness. I was young enough to not remember any bad times. My mother work is all done with my stepmother. I know those sideway comments well as well.


    • Violet Nesdoly

      May 7, 2016 at 6:30 pm

      I’m so sorry to hear that, Brenda. Stepmothers are special too with a unique set of challenges. As for those sideways compliments–I’m sure our mothers thought they were doing what was best for us. And maybe it was!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Brenda Davis Harsham

        May 8, 2016 at 7:15 pm

        I see typos beset my comment. I’m sure that mothers try to train us to reach for our best selves. Perhaps it even works. 😉


  8. margaretsmn

    May 7, 2016 at 11:07 am

    Ah, the changing stages of mother/daughter relationship. I haven’t lost my mother, but as she approaches 80, I think more and more about the inevitability of loss.


    • Violet Nesdoly

      May 7, 2016 at 6:33 pm

      You are fortunate to still have your mom, Margaret! The thing that comforts me most, when I think of Mom being gone is that we finished well. Our relationship at the end was beautiful and comforting to both of us, and I’m so happy for that.


  9. maryleehahn

    May 7, 2016 at 4:52 pm

    My mom is still alive, but is suffering lots of age’s set-backs and indignities as she approaches 90. (!!) Every season I wonder, “Will this be our last Christmas? Our last spring?”


    • Violet Nesdoly

      May 7, 2016 at 6:38 pm

      Aw, Mary Lee, I’ve been there! “Indignities” is a good way of expressing those end of life challenges. (The life force within us is very strong!) I remember it hitting me when Mom entered her last sickness–and thinking we’ll never celebrate her birthday together again, or Christmas. But what a blessing for you to have had your mom for almost 90 years! When the time comes, you’ll handle everything valiantly, I’m sure!


  10. Michelle Heidenrich Barnes

    May 8, 2016 at 6:20 am

    Thank you for sharing your personal recollections so beautifully, Violet. Having been in the greeting card business for a few years, I know how difficult it was to walk that line of being specific enough to make it sound personal while at the same time appealing to many. Sometimes it is best to just write your own!


    • Violet Nesdoly

      May 8, 2016 at 6:48 am

      Thanks, Michelle, I didn’t mean to dis the greeting card business (and I’ll bet you were good at it!), as I am often amazed at how close they come to expressing what I feel. And one realizes that the cards on the racks must appeal to a vast array of situations, or they wouldn’t get bought. Of course they focus on the good, positive parts of the relationship. You’re so right. If we want to be more particular in our wishes, best to write our own or, like I often do, add my own bits to the beautiful sentiments on a Hallmark!


  11. Penny Parker Klostermann

    May 12, 2016 at 1:48 pm

    Thanks for sharing about your mom, Violet. You’re poem is so touching.

    Even though my mom is still living, she has dementia so our relationship is very different. I think about things I’d like to share with her that will only confuse her because she won’t understand. It frustrates her because she’s still with it enough to realize her mind is not what it used to be. But I do still have her and enjoy her sweetness. That’s something to treasure and enjoy while I still can.


    • Violet Nesdoly

      May 12, 2016 at 2:28 pm

      Thank you, Penny! I am so sad to hear about your mom’s dementia, but it’s wonderful that you enjoy what you still have of her. Losing a mom to dementia involves a whole range of emotions and relinquishments that are hard to even imagine until you’ve gone through them. Someone close to our family is experiencing the same thing and I am in awe of how they (this young woman and her father) are embracing the situation by learning about what’s happening in a support group and extending grace and love to ‘Mom’ as she continues to change and slip away.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Myra GB

    May 12, 2016 at 4:51 pm

    What a beautiful tribute to your mother, Violet. I especially loved looking at the photos. 🙂


    • Violet Nesdoly

      May 12, 2016 at 10:07 pm

      Thanks so much, Myra! It was fun reviewing those photos… brought back my beautiful mum for a bit 🙂


  13. Robyn Hood Black

    May 13, 2016 at 6:15 am

    I didn’t get around to posts as I had hoped last weekend; we were on the road. So very honest and beautiful, Violet. Thanks for sharing!



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