Fifty years ago my older brother, Billy, came home and found me drunk out of my mind.
Billy, you made me walk the neighborhood, on a snowy night, kicking me in the butt every time I stopped.
You said you were gonna walk me sober. It would be another ten years before I stayed sober, but you gave it a damn, good try.
I remember crying and crying and as I sobered up, asking you, “Where do we go from here, where do we go from here?”
Big brother, you were my first hero.
Mom wrote in my baby book that when I was a year old, I followed you everywhere, pulling your hair and teasing you, wanting you to play with me. And you told her that it was okay.
“She thinks I’m her toy,” you told her.
You taught me to ride a bike when I was six, and you set me free at the top of the hill that I felt was a mountain, on Pratt Street, because you knew I was ready before I did.
You taught me to ice skate on the Shawsheen River, in spite of my fear, because I always knew I was safe with you. You would catch me before I hit the ground.
I was afraid of everything back then, but you always took my hand and shared your courage.
I don’t know why you were so brave and strong, living with a father who tried to crush you, but thank God he didn’t succeed, and you were my hero.
Me and Cherie and Suzanne will never forget the year you saved Christmas from Dad’s rage. You came and you even packed up our Christmas Tree and drove us all to your house.
You threatened my first love’s physical existence when he left bruises on my arms. He laughed about it afterwards, but he stopped grabbing and shoving me, at least until I married him. That one’s on me.
You saved my daughter and my grandsons on a really bad night, when you could have walked away.
You and I stayed close for so many years, and it was only in the last few years that we lost touch. I had a meltdown and I shut out most of the world and if you were a casualty of my depression, I’m sorry.
We just stopped calling each other.
Maybe we got lazy, maybe we just took each other for granted, maybe we just got old.
Maybe I thought you would always be there when I needed you.
Now, you are so sick that you can’t even hold your head up for more than a minute.
The doctor said two weeks to two months.
We faced-timed today and I watched your courage once more, as you struggled to talk, to think, to connect.
We reminisced about our trip around the old neighborhood on that snowy night so long ago.
“Where do we go from here? You kept asking me that,” you said.
“Well, I guess we’re there now,” I said.
Once more, your courage shines through as you prepare to leave this world behind.
I told you I’m putting you in God’s hands and you could like it or lump it.
“Go for it, ” you said. A few weeks ago, you would have given a different answer.
I will play with you in Heaven, dear brother. Save me a place in the family mansion.
You taught me so many things, but this…this is the hardest lesson of all.
by Grace Christine Doucette (My mom)
It’s cold in New England, ice is King
The flowers are sleeping, waiting for spring.
In my heart, memories are deep
Waiting for old promises to keep.
I planted seeds of love early in life
They’re not dead, buried by strife.
Just waiting for the big thaw when
I’ll see blossoms as never before.
The rose in a grandchild’s smile
The bloom in a hug that stretches a mile.
Yes, my seeds have sprung into life
And bloomed in my garden
Through all the icy strife.
Life goes on, it never will end
When you plant your seeds
In the heart’s of your children and friends.
Now, She Has the Time
by Grace Christine Doucette
Mother, I wanted to visit you today
But I was too busy,
other things got in the way.
I knew you’d understand and not complain
You never want to put me under a strain.
So, my days slipped by without seeing you
But, I knew you were there, in plain view.
Now, I have the chance
to come spend time with you
But you’re not here. “Mum, where are you?”
God had the time so he took you away
To sit and talk to Him and quietly pray.
He fills your time with companionship
That I unaware, had slowly let slip.
I missed seeing your smile
and feeling your loving touch
And I forgot to say, “I love you so much.”
Now I have the time, “Mum, where are you?”
A NOTE FROM GRACE (My Mom)
When my children were growing up and got into their “teenage problem” years, I’d become exasperated with them. I’d think, “They’re just like their father!”
Then, one day the light dawned on me, (Marblehead) because after taking a hard, honest look at myself, I realized; they were just like me. The me I had suppressed and hidden deep inside, where no one else could see. I was as wild and rebellious as they, but I had put up a shield of adult perfection, striving to become the perfect mother that everyone expected me to be.
I have now learned that I need to let this child in me come out to play, or the adult becomes a cold hard shell. I must confess, now that I’m older, I have to do this through my books, and old TV movies.
My mind wants to run through fields of flowers with all my clothes flung aside, but my body slows me down to a stroll through Wal-Mart, wrapped in warm sweaters.
from Grace ( My Mom)
Life has taught me an important lesson. “Put your money where your mouth is.” I brag to everyone about my clever daughter and her newsletter. Her beautiful public letters to me fill me with pride. Sometimes they make me cry to see the love flowing between us, and it makes me feel so undeserving because I only did what any mother would do—I loved my daughter. I remember how I tried to convince my jealous husband (jealous even of his own children) that “Love shared is never divided, it is multiplied.” My love was multiplied by him, and my four beautiful children, not divided amongst them. The years have shown me the strength in my children, and while I may not like everything they do, I love them and respect their right to be themselves. They have taken some of what I taught them and rejected what they found didn’t fit into each of their life styles; but, the base of our relationship has always been that I love them—unconditionally. So, Jeanne Marie, enclosed is my donation for stamps, and although I love my gift subscription, I want to contribute to WWTTM. Love, Mom
Thanks Mom, and I’ve met far too many mothers who don’t love their children unconditionally, so take credit for the gifts you have given me. You do deserve it! Love, JM
THE HOUSE THAT NEVER SLEEPS
(The VA Hospital)
BY Jean Burbine
I work in the house that never sleeps.
It hides the smiles of the man who weeps.
They come with a limp, with a faltering walk.
Some with a smile for they cannot talk.
Men come with their pain, their fading sight
and find a helping hand from the angels in white.
“Let me push your chair, let me help you walk.”
“Let me be your eyes, and your tongue to talk.”
And all through the night as the rays of dawn creeps,
they stand by your side in the house that never sleeps.