For My Mother

Today, I tried to think of the things you did for me
When I was young, the times when I needed help
When I couldn’t do things for myself
I thought of the times when you told me off
Because I’d done something wrong
And sometimes it was because you was angry
But sometimes it was because you didn’t want me to get hurt
I thought, as well, of the times when I was older, when I should’ve known better
When you still looked out for me, even when I made mistakes
Even when it was all my own fault, you still looked out for me
I remember the time I was on the floor, hugging my knees
And you called the doctor, and you made sure they came and cared for me
And they ensured I didn’t die
And still you looked strong, you stayed strong, and even though I’d done wrong
You tried to blame yourself for my crimes, like it was all your fault
When clearly it wasn’t
Throughout all of this, I buried my head in the sand
Or maybe I was just self-obsessed
Or maybe I was an optimist and ignored all of the signs
I never saw you become weaker overnight
It was more of a gradual decline
And still I refused to accept it as reality
We would joke about the inevitable, about the things I would do after the inevitable happened
And you would laugh
But perhaps neither of us realized the inevitable would happen so soon
I’m a writer, and I have an imagination, and I live my life in a world of creation
So reality, when it hit me this time, it hit me hard
It made me think the reality is that I will struggle to cope
When the inevitable happens
Today, I tried to think of all of the things you did for me
When I was younger and when I was older
But there are too many to mention and our time is too short to mention them all
The reality is that we would run out of time
Just know that I appreciate them all


My mother died on 30 January 2020, after a long illness. She had COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), and suffered with exacerbations, each leaving her more ill than the previous. I wrote this poem about three years earlier, when she had managed to survive one such exacerbation, and I showed it to her. It moved her so much that she cried in front of me. After she died, I discovered the paper copy of this poem in amongst her paperwork.

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