Family Portrait

Me & Mom, Maine 1977

For the past year,

my mother has existed solely

in old, worn photographs.

The mother of joy and connection,

craft projects and mystery trips,

bare feet and clay sculpture.

Just one year ago,

the mother I encountered

was a shadow of this younger woman.

Drink, despair and disease

had robbed us all of her true self.

But now,

as time passes and her death

adds distance to the darker days,

the mother of my childhood

returns in vivid color.

Any pain from the last twenty years

is falling away,

leaving only the gleaming

portrait of a mother whole.

10 thoughts on “Family Portrait

  1. Absolutely beautiful post. My mother had different issues, but the end of her life was difficult. She has been gone 18 years, and I now remember primarily her good days and am so grateful for the wonderful mother I had. So glad you are experiencing that as well.


  2. Leah McFarlane says:

    This is beautiful. “Any pain from the last twenty years/ is falling away, / leaving only the gleaming / portrait of a mother whole.”


  3. Well said – and glad that you can let the painful memories go and hold on to the good years. My mothers last few years were not happy ones for her or us and I quickly decided to work on letting them go and pulling out the old memories of fun time when we were little. I love the way you voice your feelings in your poetry. Thanks for sharing them with us!


  4. This is heart-wrenching in its stark beauty. Pain. loss, lament, anguish all give way to beauty, joy, and love, though what? Grace and forgiveness. Yours is a radiant poem of grace and forgiveness in a most human and flawed circumstance. But after all – that’s what allows it to happen in the first place and to eventually heal. Love wins.
    So grateful to have read this piece. Thank you.


  5. Wow. I just wrote a post admitting that I don’t know how to critique others’ poetry. But even my untrained eye feels the power in this poem. ‘a mother whole’. What a line. Powerful and painful. Thank you for sharing.


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