Why Am I Me: A Birthday Poem For Mom

Mama, Why Am I Me?
My mom, Billie Burke Robinson as a child in Anaconda, Montana

Mama, why am I me?

A big question, from child number three

The one known as Billie B–

The auburn-haired beauty would smile, and laugh

As she’d help you see:


My little Irish Doll, full of whit

You are strength, and song, and grit

Life brings challenge and struggle,

You are you, to help me get through it


Named after Hollywood’s good fairy,

You are here to laugh, to sing, and fly–

Higher than, farther than, longer than I.


You call her Mama,

Your soft brown eyes fill with tears

As you recall, her short-lived years,

Her triumphs, her struggles, her fears:


Mama had no window, nor pail

She was s woman of strength, yet sometimes frail–

A cook, a seamstress, a maid,

Mama made fine fringe jackets from Salvation Army suede

Given lemons, Mama surely made lemonade.


My Grandma, brought to life through stories told,

How proud she would be

If she lived to see

The one who came in like a Lamb and out like a Lion

Have the privilege of growing old,

While being beautiful, brazen and bold.


I know I would love her as much as I love you

As I live my life, and poetry pursue,

There’s one thing I know is true:

She had eyes of blue

Just like me–

My Grandma’s eyes

From which I see,

Why you are you

And I am me.


Since I was a child, I’d carefully listen to mom tell her stories of her mom, my grandma, Dorothy Vinnie Robinson. Mom lovingly referred to her as “Mama,” like a small child, when she’d recall her life – one that ended when she was just 48 years old. I’d write down things she’d say about her Mama: how grandma raised 4 daughters by herself, how she had the courage to leave their abusive father, how they survived poverty, and how they found joy despite their hardships. My grandma died long before I was born, but through her stories she been brought to life for me.

Mom would tell me when she was a child, how she’d always ask her Mama, “Mom, why am I me?” It’s that question, plus the other descriptions of her I’d jot down, that are the heart of this poem I wrote for my mom’s upcoming 83rd birthday.

Happy Birthday Mom, I love you so much!!

2 thoughts on “Why Am I Me: A Birthday Poem For Mom

  1. Oh, dear baby sister blue eyes, just like your Grandma’s eyes. Mine are blue too though all misty at the moment.
    What a beautiful poem and tribute to Mom. A cache of jewels, your words and priceless.
    I will print this out for Mom and give it to her tomorrow. I plan to make her a St. Patrick’s dinner.
    I wish you were here!

    Big D, (aka Dorothy – named after our Grandma)

    Liked by 2 people

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