What I Learned From My Mother

Submitted by Emily Wood

What I Learned From My Mother
by Julia Kasdorf

I learned from my mother how to love

the living, to have plenty of vases on hand

in case you have to rush to the hospital

with peonies cut from the lawn, black ants

still stuck to the buds. I learned to save jars

large enough to hold fruit salad for a whole

grieving household, to cube home-canned pears

and peaches, to slice through maroon grape skins

and flick out the seeds with a knife point.

I learned to attend viewing even if I didn’t know

the deceased, to press the moist hands

of the living, to look in their eyes and offer

sympathy, as though I understood loss even then.

I learned that whatever we say means nothing,

what anyone will remember is that we came.

I learned to believe I had the power to ease

awful pains materially like an angel.

Like a doctor, I learned to create

from another’s suffering my own usefulness, and once

you know how to do this, you can never refuse.

To every house you enter, you must offer

healing: a chocolate cake you baked yourself,

the blessing of your voice, your chaste touch.

Thank you, Julia Kasdorf, for writing these words that tell about my Mother too, and what I have learned from her. She recently celebrated her 99th birthday and continues to supply me with comfort and joy.  We visit now by telephone. Her listening ear and reassuring tones still give me courage and strength. She continues to teach me the power of presence.  She is a giver.

To honor her,  I follow the pattern I learned, to offer hospitality, to welcome the stranger, to speak with kindness, to listen with empathy, and to show up with cut flowers or banana bread in hand. She teaches me still, that “love” is an action verb and I strive to  do as she has done. From what I have learned from my Mom I have gleaned my purpose,  to make love visible in my community.

Learner, Thinker, Writer: Emily Wood serves the Trinity School community as a receptionist.

5 thoughts on “What I Learned From My Mother

  1. Beautifully stated! Thanks for sharing this.

  2. You learned well from your mother, and your life is certainly an honor to her words. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Emily, thanks for sharing these nuggets of wisdom, and giving us a glimpse into your mother’s beautiful heart.

  4. Emily,
    In your role, you see everyone in our Trinity community. What an awesome privilege you have “making love visible in your community.” I am grateful not only for the teachings of your mother, but also for the application made by her daughter.

  5. Emily, this is beautiful! Thank you for sharing these powerful and touching words with our community. We are lucky to work with you.

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