For As Long As I Can Remember


Dear Mother,

Though we are drastically different, we remain connected in ways I am only beginning to get my heart around . . .

You love to entertain, and you amaze me with your ability to whisk a few things from here and there and over yonder then group them in the center of the table – atop that tablecloth you embroidered when you were younger or the tablecloth you got on that trip to southern California or maybe the tablecloth that once belonged to your mother – to create a fetching table that invites folks to come, eat, stay a while.

You love to cook, and in all the meals I’ve eaten at your table, I only remember one inedible dish – a meal that’s come to be known as The Night The Gravy Went Horribly Awry. After a full day of work followed by grocery shopping followed by cooking and setting the table, you were too tired to notice us pushing the gravy around on our plates. You were too tired to notice all the leftover gravy as we cleared the table, scraping all leftovers into a communal leftover vessel that was put down on the floor to treat the cat. You were too tired to notice how the cat sniffed the gravy, then turned around and began to try to cover it up by raking bits of debris from the floor.

(Whatever happened to that cat, anyway?)

Though we each have our favorite foods we never tire of having you prepare for us, you delight in collecting cookbooks, stretching their spines as you put colorful gem clips on pages of recipes you want to try out. They line an entire bookcase in your home, all these cookbooks picked up as souvenirs from trips or accepted as gifts given, and you can (and do) tell the story of each one . . . sometimes offering it before we even think to ask.

The original social butterfly, you never letting a birthday go by unnoticed. How you have the time to keep up and stay in touch with so many friends is beyond me. But you do, and it’s not an obligation – you enjoy every minute.

Through the years, you’ve saved your money and purchased some fine furniture pieces – some I sure wish you still had so I could put my name on them. Whether it’s furniture or lamps or rugs or accessories or wall color or even switchplate covers, you create rooms that invite comfortable gatherings sprinkled with food (of course) and conversation and laughter.

You never met a plant who didn’t thrive in your care. The birds can’t wait for spring to come to your backyard, plants race to break through the soil and vie for your loving attention, your flowers provide color that dazzles and pleases even the most contrary and grumpy eye. You are one of those rare gardeners who doesn’t have to pay attention to the growing zones. Even the most neglected or out-of-place plants want to do you proud.

You taught me how to tell time . . . not with a watch or numbers written in a circle, but with clothes. Always one to keep up with the latest fashions, you have a knack for buying clothes and accessories that never go out of style. You dressed me in clothes that gave me confidence and that can’t-touch-me feeling, and though I can’t tell you what year anything happened, I can sure tell you what I was wearing at the time (and probably where we bought it).


That’s what you taught me: beauty. You taught me the importance of beauty, of surrounding myself with it, of acquiring and enjoying it without apology. You taught me to have beauty in mind at all times, to always keep an eye out for beauty, to appreciate it when I see it, and to create it every chance I get. And the best part? you didn’t teach me by having me read a book or by telling me things and following up with a test. You taught me by living it – living it every day in every way. And that, more than anything else I can think of, is what I thank you for today.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. I love you more than that set of encyclopedias you petitioned Santa to bring me that one year.

a.k.a. Jeanne,
your Favorite



  1. Elizabeth Marie

    Oh how I love this! You have me remembering fun, funny, touching, joyful stories about my own mother (I miss her terribly today). Beautiful post!

    • whollyjeanne

      oh good! how’s the writing/editing coming along, sugar? always a pleasure to see your name pop up on my screen. always.

      • Elizabeth Marie

        I’m between spring semester and the summer residency, and I’m writing very slowly, mostly in my head. But I have a sense that within a few days, you won’t be able to pry me away from my poetry files. 🙂 I’m about to start the second year, but everything we write is writing toward the thesis. Thank you for caring!!!!!! I just adore you.

        • whollyjeanne

          and i, you. promise to keep me posted? i think of you often and send a big batch of hugs and smiles.

          • Elizabeth Marie

             definitely will you posted. I should target you as an occasional reader for raw poems in progress. 🙂

            • whollyjeanne

              oh how i would love that! warning, though: i know nothing – absolutely nothing – about the technical construction of poetry, but i do know it when i see it, love to read it, and am always happy to give uneducated reader feedback. xo

  2. Merry ME

    I kind of feel like I’ve been invited to your house and you are introducing me to your family one by one. With each introduction I want to sit on the couch and soak it all in. I’d say that’s pretty darn good writing!

  3. noelrozny

    A perfect tribute to you Mom, and I love the pics too!

  4. Ahewell

    Thanks, so much Jeanne.  You make me feel special! Not only by your writings but by your many acts of love. 

  5. Margaret

    What a gift for your mom!

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