In 1994, I wrote a poem called “The Newest Angel” published in an anthology called “Echoes From the Silence”. A cousin happened to run across it among her late mother’s things yesterday and asked what inspired me to write it.
When my mother was on her death bed, I spent two days with her in the hospital. I wouldn’t exchange that time together for anything. We talked about absolutely everything. She even spoke of the premature baby she’d birthed when I was three years old and how she looked like a little doll. She never got over losing my little sister. We talked about her family history, since I was a genealogy nut at the time. I learned so many things about a lot of topics.
I combed her hair, fed her, and did my best to keep her comfortable. At one point, she said she kept wondering where my late older brother was. I said, “You do know where he is, don’t you, Mother?” She did. This led me to believe he was soon going to be greeting her.
She’d been a gifted seamstress in her younger days before retirement. She loved nothing more than feeding and caring for the birds. The care home she’d been in allowed her to pick out a huge, bronze bird bath for the front lawn and it was her job to keep the bird feeders filled. She was mentally sharp to the very end, but couldn’t live in the altitude where we are and where she had been living, due to an earlier single lungectomy. Never a smoker, she developed a cyst in her left lung. A complication during surgery caused it to have to be removed. She moved from Ohio to Colorado to be near me after the death of my stepfather, her husband of 41 years. Her house is visible from my front window at just two tenths of a mile away. She was not ill until four years later.
When she developed a rare form of pneumonia, the same kind that killed Jim Hensen of Muppet fame, she was hospitalized. On the second day, the hospital decided to put her in a private room because she was to have no visitors, except family. When they did this, she said something odd, “Oh, I can get well in here.” Later that day, she told me she wished I would let her get well. I knew what she was trying to ask, so I told her it was okay and she could do that. She relaxed then.
There were a lot of episodes when we thought the end had arrived, but she’d rally and be fine again. After one such incident, with two Baptist ministers praying on each side, she suddenly sat up, asked for her lunch and ate it all. The nurse told me, “Whatever religion she is, I want to be that!” Mother’s comment was she was glad the clock on the wall had stopped acting up.
When I first began writing, poems would suddenly come to me, fully intact. A therapist friend of mine inspired me to keep writing them because he saw a potential. In a short time, the poetry simply left. I wrote short stories. Those evolved into writing a non-fiction book and then fiction novels. So, that’s how the poem came about and how I became a published author.
The last words I exchanged with my mother were when she simply said, “Goodnight.” I replied, “I’ll see you later.” That was twenty-three years ago and I still miss her every single day. I have worn her gold band wedding ring on my index finger since the day she died. In lieu of flowers, an aviary was built in her name at Valley Manor with memorial donations.
THE NEWEST ANGEL
The angels pulled the clouds apart and lowered golden stairs.
My Mother looked toward the sun and saw my brother there.
Her weary face she turned once more to look into my eyes.
“If you would let me go,” she said, “I’d start toward the sky.”
Into my own, I took her hand and gently touched her hair.
I told her that she could get well, that I would never care.
With silent tears, I watched her go. She turned to smile once more.
She blew a kiss and climbed the stairs to walk through golden doors.
A peacefulness she sent to earth to tell me she’d got there.
And happiness is hers once more…no longer has she cares.
The angels are excited cause a new one’s come to sew
white gossamer into soft gowns with piping made of gold.
God lets her water all the plants and feed the snow white doves
and send to earth soft, gentle winds to touch me with her love.
My Guardian Angel has a name and is a special lady.
She’s looking down from up above, still watching o’er her baby.
(© September 1994 Jackie Taylor Zortman)