My mother gave me a collection of poems the day I graduated from high school.
That might not sound like such a big deal, but this particular anthology was inscribed to her by the Kansas City, Missouri branch of the American Association of University Women “For Highest Scholastic Achievement,” and given to her the day she received her diploma as valedictorian of the class of 1957.
It’s a little piece of my mother’s past that my sisters and brother would also have been very happy to receive. It’s mine.
On the flip side of the page occupied by the University Women (whoever they were), my mom wrote out for me, in her own hand, a familiar poem featuring my name. A sweet gesture, especially considering that she chose the name herself.
But, aside from that, who doesn’t like receiving a poem? And who doesn’t like hearing her own name?
Since that day, I have been placing myself strategically in a chair next to the door, ready to meet all who enter. Some perceptive folk have remarked that there is something studied about the way I jump up and greet newcomers with a kiss.
I have my reasons.
And yet, despite all my efforts and all the years that have passed, my mother remains the only person ever to present me with that poem. It’s discouraging.
But I still have the book. A thousand pages of poems. One in my mother’s handwriting.
Time, you thief, who love to get
Sweets into your list, put that in!