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!!