I lost my mother when I was 19. I had run away from home for a year or so in my teens. My father and I did not get along, you could say, but that’s a very different story now, and not the story for today. I came back, fortunately before mom’s cancer returned. So I spent a lot of time by her bedside before she left. I was never quite able to let her go, not until years later.
Anyway, I have never felt like an orphan of any sort. I think she did her best to teach me everything she could before she left. I have always felt kind of lucky. I’m not kidding myself with the power of positive thinking here; I knew I was fortunate to have the relationship with Mom that I did. Some people don’t have that and let’s not fool ourselves, some mothers can be as awful as the stereotypical deadbeat dad. So yes, lucky, blessed, whatever you want to call it, I was.
I remember going to the A&P Market with my mother when I was quite young. They had those coffee grinders at the end of the aisles, and I loved that smell of fresh roasted coffee. My brother Dennis was a produce manager there, as I recall and my uncle Jim too, though maybe that was a different store. But I remember mom there, picking through oranges and apples, and while she wasn’t remembering Cuba or some far off homeland the way Mrs. Blanco was in this poem, I know she was remembering something, her own childhood perhaps.
Blanco mentions Macintosh apples, and those were mother’s favorite. But maybe it was because they were cheaper. She had a large clan to feed, as you can see in that ancient photo above. I tend to go for Granny Smiths because I like that tartness. My youngest son recently said that whoever named Red Delicious apples had probably never tasted them. I wonder what sort of produce you might remember your own mother picking or purchasing. What meaning does that memory have for you? Care to share in the comments?
For whatever reason this poem by Richard Blanco always reminds me of her, and what I wish I could say. Please be sure to listen to the audio as well. Blanco does a beautiful reading of this. Happy Mother’s Day.
The entire text of the poem can be found by clicking right here on Richard Blanco’s site. Below I’ll share the SoundCloud file because I think his reading of this is just beautiful.