Sunday, October 5, 2008



I searched her room
In the reverent darkness
For the card from Hospice
The one with the green lettering
The one with the priest’s name on it

Instead I found notes from her sisters
Books, crochet hooks, empty sugar packets
And things that speak of an altered life

I listened for her labored breaths
Between my rustlings of her belongings
As I searched for the card
The one with the priest’s name on it

An aide appeared like a premature angel
Dressed in white in the dim light
To give me a reassuring hug
She had the number
She would call
And I could attend to my mother
And stop searching for the card
The one with the priest’s name on it

Next morning, like the three biblical Mary’s
My sisters and I returned to her room
To gather up things no longer required
Notes from her sisters, books, crochet hooks
Empty sugar packets
And things that speak of an altered life

It was then that I found it

As if to stay one chapter ahead
Of the inevitable
She used the card
The one with the green lettering
The one with the priest’s name on it
As a book mark

She was stubbornly successful
At inserting her own agenda
All the way to page 47

Cynthia Ann Conciatu, 1999

Florida State Poets Award, 1999
Tampa Chapter – National Organization of Penwomen Annual Award, 2000

That evening, after taking care of Mom's belongings and making funeral arrangements, we returned to my house which would be home base for the events of the next few days. Several of my brothers were there along with my sisters and my family - about 10 of us all together.

We were all emotionally drained, tired and hungry - in that order. My daughter offered to go for carry out, but nothing sounded good. I kiddingly said "The only thing that sounds good to me right now is a bowl of cereal". With that, everyone named their favorite cereal and agreed that breakfast for dinner would be perfect.

Mom was quite the bingo player, especially since many of the other players were in different stages of dementia. I had the little apple green tin box that held her stash of bingo winnings - so this special dinner was complements of Mom!

Jennifer brought home boxes and boxes of different kinds of cereal and fruit and milk. We all sat around the table enjoying our favorite. It was one of the best dinners ever.


nanatrish said...

I had never thought of cereal as comfort food, but in this situation it makes lots of sense. That is a great poem. I felt right there in the room. I find myself being jealous of my friends that still have their mother. Mine died in 1978 and we were extremely close. Thank you for sharing such a sweet poignant time of your life. You are a special person.

Kalianne@BygoneBeauty said...

Cynthia, you are a lady blessed with many talents. Your poem is beautiful and very touching. I also lost a parent four years ago. Life is so altered now, never the same again, a different normal I guess. I am sorry for your loss. The cereal dinner sounded like a beatuiful time of remembrance for you and your sisters. Thanks for sharing! God bless!

Blicky Kitty said...

I love that haunting phrase about an altered life. The thing that spoke to me too was that reading was among the last things she clung to. Your voice comes through in such a unique and thoughtful way whether you're writing poetry or funny posts.

marianne said...

Hi Museawings!
Beautiful post! did you loose your mom recently or is this written from a memory.
Anyway it is hard to loose parents I guess. I still have mine , but they are old and fragile....
What a great dinner in memory of your mom it must have been!

Shellmo said...

Your poem is going to stick with me for quite a long have such a way with words and i admire your talent!

willow said...

Touching tribute and wonderful poem, Cynthia! Kudos to you for the well deserved award. I love how the pages in the book form a heart!

Nothing is as comforting a meal as a good old bowl of cereal.

MuseSwings said...

Nana Trish - I loved your post about your mother. She was obviously a wonderful lady!

Kaylianne - You're right! Life goes on and a new "normal" envelops everyone left behind.

Blicky K. Thank you for that!

Marianne, Mom died in 1999. I recall lots of laughter and remembering during that breakfast dinner.

Thank you Shelly!

Thank you Willow - I love that picture too - I forgot to give credit to Flickr for the wonderful photo.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Lovely tribute.

And, Trix was always my favorite cereal. I think I wanted to share some with that poor rabbit who never got any!

Margaret Ann said...

Soulful and beautiful poetic words...reflective of a caring have touched my have so much to give! :)

LoolyLouise said...

Boy, was I ever transported back in time reading this post! The poem is one of my favorites of yours and the memories of siblings and cereal and laughter and tears whooshed over me. I remember the morning she died, you came blasting into her room at o'darkthirty - very much like Kramer through Jerry's door - all frantic and your hair was not perfect. I laughed (on the inside) in spite of the sadness we were facing. And it still brings a smile. Mom... she really did live an altered life, didn't she? Someday we'll know why.

MuseSwings said...

Loolylouise - I just hope she's not ticked off at us for all of the decisions we made - I just know she hated her dress. I sometimes wonder about that. But then, knowing she is finally at peace and perfection, I don't imagine she'll be mad at us for long when we all meet again for that big garage door picture in the sky.

Pamela I remember seeing Trix on the dinner table and Alphabits and lots of things we hadn'e had for years.

Margaret Ann - Thank you so much!

Sparky ♥ ∞ said...

I'm so touched, I'm having a hard time finding the right words. It's amazing the little things we remember during a stressful time. I call them our Tender Mercies. I've lost both parents, a step mother, all grandparents, and a very dear friend. It never gets easier to say Goodbye. I'm always sorry to hear when others have lost a loved one.

That was a very thought provoking and heart warming post. ((Hugs)) ♥ ∞

LoolyLouise said...

Sissy, you KNOW she would have hated whichever dress we picked for her! Pleasing her could be a rare occasion, especially on trips to Michael's for googly eyes and doll stands. YIKES!!

Maybe you could post your other poem that we used on her "funeral cards".

I don't recall which cereal I gobbled that night. But I do recall it was The Perfect Ending to a wrenching day. Thanks, Jennifer!!


MuseSwings said...

Thank you, Sparky! Tender Mercies is a perfect phrase for those times.

Lool - Jennifer read the post this morning and found it touching and full of memories too. One of these days I'll do a post about a trip to Michael's for mom. As soon as my eye stops twitching. Yes, thanks Jennifer!

steviewren said...

What a nice memory. I really like your poetry. It is so genuine and heartfelt.

MuseSwings said...

Thank you, Steviewren!

Sandy said...

What a touching post Cynthia and awesome poem....

Mod Girl said...

Cynthia, I enjoyed your poem immensely. Thank your for sharing it. I love how it captures the real details of life (even in death).

Are you familiar with Mary Ward Brown's short stories? Your poem reminds me of her writing.

MuseSwings said...

Thank you both for your kind comments!

Mod - I've not heard of Mary Ward Brown before -I will definitly check her out!