Monica E. Smith

Monica E. Smith

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I Am Your Child

Mother's Day is yet two months away. But March, unbelievably, marks the fourth anniversary of my mother's death, and I have been thinking of her a great deal these last few days. Be that as it may, what mother should only be remembered on one day? I dedicate this entry to her.

My mother never made a mistake, though she thought otherwise. I know this because everything she did, or said, or felt was genuine, from the heart and born from love. I think I even knew this as a child. Even then, I did not want to let her down. She just seemed to have a goodness about her that is seldom found. She was an exceedingly kind and loving woman who truly loved people and enjoyed their company. She loved fully and without limit, even though we, her children, may not have always made the wisest choices in our lives. In fact, those were the times I felt her love even more strongly. It never cooled, never wavered. I admired her so for her constancy, her quiet courage.

I think what is sometimes mistakenly believed to be "playing favorites" is simply a mother who is in touch with her children, and knowing instinctively, intuitively—by guess and by God—when a particular child needs more. My mother was such a woman.

And when I was sad and she would hold me, the touch of her hands was so warm and comforting. I think I miss that most of all. It was a safe place to be when I was a child, and even more so as an adult, facing the many challenges of life. She (along with my father) instilled in her children the mettle to succeed, and planted the seeds of faith so necessary in living a life of meaning and purpose. Somehow just to be with her gave me the strength and courage and desire to go on even when it seemed too hard, or when things made no sense. I wanted to please her, to be like her. Her strength of character was amazing and I don't remember ever hearing her say a negative thing about anyone, except herself. Often, especially in her later days, when my mother felt she failed at something or did or said something she believed was "stupid", or she became forgetful, she would severely chastise herself. She saw those moments as weakness; I saw them as simply human.

It's very difficult to lose someone who has such an impact on your life, and not a day goes by that I don't think of her, say a prayer for her, remember her, miss her. She will always be my mother, my friend, and though I fall far short, my role model. And my dearest mother, always and forever, I Am Your Child...

Monday, March 02, 2009

Silent March

Top to Bottom: Maple Farm and Mad River on State Route 287 in West Liberty, Ohio (Logan County)

No time of year presents a more certain dose of reality, or reminds us more strongly that nature does not abide by our timetable, than March. This morning, with warm thoughts and dreams of spring still in my head (despite needing the extra down quilt on my bed last night), I awoke to frozen pipes in the bathroom and Bernie's cable (with which we chain her outside) snapped completely in half from the cold. Apparently, much to my dismay, March has decided to forgo the "in like a lamb" scenario this year.

The Mad River still has patches of ice where the river seems only to be a little trickle of water left over from a late winter rainfall. Local weather reports still talk of wind chills, and the choicest logs from a recent truckload of wood are burning furiously in the wood stove. But living in the country, and with an open mind, one begins to notice the early heralds of spring around this time of year, assuring that, indeed, spring is just around the corner.

I love driving down State Route 287 through West Liberty, Ohio. Though it can be tricky to maneuver the hills and winding curves after a fresh snow, beauty is nonetheless lurking, even in winter. This stretch of road is a buffet for the eyes, at times wooded areas or fields and wide-open spaces, at times artistically spaced farmhouses—sometimes new and impeccable, sometimes in need of repair (and offering a certain beauty of their own). In autumn the trees here are especially bright and colorful and I find it hard to keep my eyes on the winding roads when driving. Even in winter after a new snow, the hills and valleys are lambent in the sun or moonlight, evidence of the simple shimmering purity which remains in nature. Depending on whether you're traveling through this area in mid-summer or early October, also on the menu are rows and rows of corn, alternating from emerald green to a deep coppery, almost incandescent glow in the shining sun. The daylillies and little clumps of multi-colored wild flowers in spring and summer are quite profuse, fragrant and especially lovely.

As in all of life, one thing you can always count on in nature is change, and while I don't like change, I always look forward to and am excited by the change of seasons. It signals a new beginning fertile with possibility, and adds a little spice to my routine. But I always seem to be caught off guard by one particular presentiment of spring, which, after living here for 20 years I should well expect: the bright red pails which suddenly appear in a large grove of maple trees on Route 287. They are a surprising and welcome burst of color in the otherwise dull gray-brown of winter's coup de grĂ¢ce. It's time for maple syrup again, and all things warm and sweet. It's March, sweetest of months, flowing like syrup into our midst, allowing us to savor life's fullness once again.

Silent March

Though she may arrive
Silently, lamb-like
March cannot hide

Her bright red pails
Handily hung
Give her away,

Announce her arrival
With the pomp and ceremony
Of a royal entourage,
Signaling the time
For mapling once again

March, sweetest of months,
Flows like syrup into our midst
Allowing us to savor life’s fullness