My beloved mother, Joyce Olivia Mary Hudis nee Board, passed away on 15th October, peacefully asleep and in the presence of loved ones. She had just recently turned ninety. I wanted to share this poem in wrote for her ninetieth birthday, in commemoration.
Daughter of the Sun
Daughter of the sun
Bonnie and happy, good and gay,
I, your hardworking Saturday's child
How shall I speak of ninety years
Twenty-six known only through family tales
Stories shared at dinner table--
Great-grandfather's top hat, green with age,
Buzz bomb in Camberwell phone kiosk?
What do I know of your Loenine mysteries?
I picture that August day
Nineteen hundred and twenty five.
Horses clip-clop down Skipton Street,
Criers call, "Cherries, ripe cherries!"
"Any old iron?"
Emmie thinks she's had a surfeit of greengages
Such terrible colic.
Quick, quick, waters are breaking
Head is crowning
It's a girl!
Did they name you Mary for Blessed Mother?
Joyce for the joy you bring?
Olivia for your grandmother the tealeaf reader
Who claimed to have the second sight.
And Joe so excited he mixes up the names
And you are forever JOMB.
I picture you clinging to your father's hand
Marveling at the candles flickering in church
Bandaging your dolls and giving them medicine
Doing Knees Up Mother Brown
As Terry plays piano.
I imagine that day
At Chelsea polytechnic,
The shy Jewish boy who won your heart.
Your love story sings
In my genetic code.
Imagination fades into memory
Julian Villa, the flowering currant and the lilac bush
The gooseberries and raspberries
Vicky and Mosby curled together in their basket.
I see you reading Jeeves, Agatha Christie or the BMJ
I see you weighing babies
Embroidering, tending your roses.
I see you stirring strawberry jam
And apple chutney,
Making Christmas pudding,
Listening to Mozart with your feet up,
Sipping a cup of tea.
I see you singing Golden Slumbers to little Katy,
Bringing Ros home from the hospital
Walking slowly, heavy with your son.
We fold sheets together, make lentil soup, go hiking.
You read The Hobbit to me--it's thrilling.
And then there are the Magic Pill stories--
Olivia finds pills in a secret bureau drawer
And we're transported to the Middle Ages
Where your girls save knights and rescue princes.
Driving to Suffolk with a cat basket
A new life--Christchurch Park, the Tower Church,
Walks on the saltmarsh
Rowing on the Orwell,
Holidays at Colle Diobhain.
Later, I glimpse your life in snatches--
Marmaduke warning me off the bed
Magnus romping in park,
Visiting grandchildren in Donegal and Wales.
Shot through with ginger cats, tawny dogs
And glowing redheads
Your life shines with your cheerful, generous spirit.
Daughter of the sun, mother of mine
You warm me still.