SOL16, Day 25: The Bonds That Form

We sat, my brother, my dad and me, in my mom’s hospital room. Telling stories. That’s what you do in the hospital.

My mom talks of how she can’t deal with numbers. A familiar mom story.

My brother responds with his story of the Yogi Bear bank designated for the money he could spend on candy and toys. And his Fred Flintstone bank that was for long term savings. He said he learned this from my mom. That her modeling of spreadsheets of the family’s budget set this up for him. I don’t doubt it. I remember those ledgers This is my brother’s narrative. The story of how my mom taught him to be wise with money. It isn’t surprising he turned out to be an accountant.

My story is different. My mom was a reader and a writer.  I hold memories of the library bookshelf. Books stacked on side tables. The need for a good reading light. My parents sitting in the living room reading. I hold memories of her typewriter. Of legal writing pads. Lists of names. Research.  Reams of paper in boxes. My story is how my mom taught me to be literate. Money didn’t attract me. Words did.  My story. One that fueled my desire to be a reader and a writer.

If we had other siblings, I wonder what their stories would be. Nature and nurture. We come into this world and absorb our environment. What sticks tends to be compatible with our strengths. It feels chemical.

Our narratives intertwine with the people who influence us. Our loved ones, our teachers, our friends. The bonds attach and new molecules form.

I’m lucky. To be near my parents. They are lucky. To have each other. Long lives together.

They Sit Together on the Porch
by Wendell Berry

They sit together on the porch, the dark
Almost fallen, the house behind them dark.
Their supper done with, they have washed and dried
The dishes–only two plates now, two glasses,
Two knives, two forks, two spoons–small work for two.
She sits with her hands folded in her lap,
At rest. He smokes his pipe. They do not speak,
And when they speak at last it is to say
What each one knows the other knows. They have
One mind between them, now, that finally
For all its knowing will not exactly know
Which one goes first through the dark doorway, bidding
Goodnight, and which sits on a while alone.
Thank you to  Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe for hosting for Poetry Friday.
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Thank you, Two Writing Teachers Blog for the Slice of Life March Challenge. Read more Slices here.

24 thoughts on “SOL16, Day 25: The Bonds That Form

  1. Such a moving piece, Julieanne. Tears. What a beautiful slice of family, connection, and a deep knowing who we are as a result of the influence of our parents. The poem after your piece slayed me. Wow.

  2. This was very moving. I love the way you show how your mom is different from your brother’s mom. Same lady, different lessons. A good mom knows what each of her kids needs.

  3. Beautiful words–
    the chemical combination of our nature and those who surround us- what a great way to describe it. And what a tender poem to describe this time in your life. Peace to you.

  4. Interesting how you and your brother connected with different sides of your mom. Such a well-chosen poem to accompany your thoughts.

  5. So well said and I love the poem! It has new meaning as my husband and I sit now at night reading in our spots. I watch as he moves up to bed and I follow a bit later. Life and Love! Thanks for sharing!

  6. I love the poem you shared. It’s so interesting that your brother absorbed financial lessons and you absorbed the literacy. I never thought about the same parent having different sides of themselves to be picked up by the children. You write so beautifully. Enjoyed this slice!

  7. Love the way you tell a story and weave each thread so carefully that is catches the reader and creates new thinking. You are so lucky to have your parents together and near. Every moment with them is precious. That poem, what can I say about that poem? Perfect with your narrative.

  8. After teaching siblings long enough I always think of the fact that they are raised in the same home but are so completely different. Parents and I have marveled at this at parent-teacher conferences for years. Yet, I never thought of what siblings take away from their parents’ teachings and modeling and how that informs them later in life. It was so interesting to hear you and your brother’s take aways. And I absolutely loved the poem you paired your slice with.

  9. I enjoyed your entry into the poem, your own connection too, Julieanne. Sometimes I think we “pick up” what we need instead of the other way round, too. Your brother sought the explanations from your mother, the banking ideas, the budgeting, & you sought the words. Your mother held both ideas and supported the choices. Like magnets we are pulled. Wendell Berry is a treasure. The poem is hard for me to read, but I love it too.

  10. Julianne,
    I enjoyed the way you took the time to pair both story and poem for your post today. “If we had other siblings, I wonder what their stories would be.” I hadn’t thought of it before, but we all do hold different stories of those we love. The poem starting in the dark is an interesting choice by the poet. The “for all its knowing will not know” is powerful as well. There are so many stories there, but still things they cannot know.


  11. My brother and I spoke this week of how our parents need help at this moment to move towards a hard decision, each in their own way. We spoke of how different our experience of childhood was, for the accomplished first-born, “easy” to parent, and the “wayward” younger, mysterious to them. He tried not to be angry, I tried not to be sorry for what I didn’t choose. We spoke of which parent needs what and what each of us needs in this moment of reversal, we the parents, they the children in some new way.

    Your piece drew this one. Thank you, Julieanne.

  12. I am reading this while my father reads his new book on Physics and Mom rests after tending the soup. We are here together, silent. That is the blessing of this day. Prayers for your mother’s healing. Such a rich life to recall.

  13. This is a lovely post and picture of your family. I’ve read the Wendell Berry poem before, and now it means something different to me, after reading your words. Thank you!

  14. What a beautiful story about your family, specifically your parents! This rang true for me, “Telling stories. That’s what you do in the hospital.” When my dad was sick, my sister and my aunts and uncle sat around telling Dad stories. Stories make up our lives. I love the reminder, friend!

  15. Julieanne,
    You weave the threads of a story so perfectly with different views – but one story. Great example of the differences in perspective. With six in our family, none of us have the exact same perspective. Wishing your mom well and a return to the “new normal” when she leaves the hospital!

  16. As we watch our parents step into those tentative moments between this world and the next, emotions and memories weave together in inexplicable ways in our minds, hearts, souls. Thanks for sharing.

  17. This has moved me to tears, Julieanne. Berry’s words are comforting and heart-breaking at the same time. Thank you for this beautiful reminder to be thankful for long lives together, and the familiar, comfortable silences that come with them.

  18. Julieanne, at this Eastertime I recall the legacy my Mom gave me. Your piece holds all that is dear to us in its words. What we learned, how we feel, what are hopes and wishes are for our loved ones. It is a touching tribute to life and the sanctity of motherhood.

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