Long Distance

When my son got his degree I pulled my phone out of my pocket to phone my mum and tell her.  I just knew she would burst with pride.  But she had died a month earlier.  The feeling was acute.  So I wrote this poem.  The picture is of my mum in the 60s, enjoying a day on the beach with us all.

Must phone ma!  He got a 2.1!

I’m so happy for my son!

Where’s my phone – I’ll tell her now –

She’s gone away.  I don’t know how.

I’ll just call in, and say hello

A cup of tea, and then I’ll go

She’ll have a bitch about Cherie Blair

Oh. No, she won’t.  Ma’s not there.

Delete the number from the phone

Remember, there is no-one home

Find someone else to tell things to

But after Ma, please tell me who.

She drove me nuts, banged on and on

We rolled our eyes and went along

With all the rubbish that she said

And all the letters that she read

To us, with pride – she’d written to

Prime Ministers, and gawd knows who

Complaining about this and that

The letters thudded on the mat.

She took them all on, and quite right

These people need to see the light!

Who better to tell them what’s what

Than Mumsee – she’d get on and jot

Things down.  But now there is no chat

No views expressed, no ‘that is that’

No tea and cake, no Sunday roast

No fights to fight, nothing to post.

No mum to tell when things go well

No ma to ask when life is hell

No endless conversations on

The telephone – Mumsee has gone.

Someone told me she will know

When things are good, when we get low

But I can’t hear her voice, her news

I can’t get bored with all her views

Long distance now – I’m here, she’s there

I miss her getting in my hair

I miss her going on about

Nothing at all, and not a doubt

In her own mind that she was right

I miss the grueling, silent fight

Within – don’t lose your temper, Jen!

Just let her say it – just give in.

Mumsee – you really were a pain

You aired your views, again and again

You stomped around sorting things out

You really were an awkward trout.

And that’s the truth, but here I sit

With sadness filling every bit

Of me – a rock, a constant place

Familiar smell, familiar face

The smell of cauliflower and lamb

The loud opinions you would ram

Down all our throats, with tea and cake

I miss you Ma, for goodness sake.

You loved us all, we know that now

We know the whys, and we know how

You planned for us, you made things right

So we could cope always, in spite

Of loss and pain and aching heads

Of chasing round hospital beds

Of watching life so stripped away

From you – a bit less there each day.

It’s quiet now.  Nothing to do

Except sit here and think of you.

No drama now, no running round

Nothing to see, and not a sound

You’re gone.  Like that.  Just not here now.

I need to talk.  I don’t know how.

Don’t understand. Can’t work it out.

Life, death and stuff, what’s it about?

Long distance now – I’ll be in touch

Oh, Ma, I miss you very much.



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