Mother’s Day Reflections–2011


Thoughts regarding my mother and others on Mother's Day 2011

Though my mother passed from this life just before her 82nd birthday in 2002, Mother’s Day continues to be a special time of reflection and celebration. Having been blessed with wonderful parents who contributed so much to my success in so many ways, I am especially grateful for my mother whose unconditional love was one of the sustaining factors in my life. She died a short time before Mother’s Day, and as I recall that Mother’s Day that year was an especially difficult time, as I initially began thinking about what to get her on her special day, as I had so often done before.  As I began to compile a list of possibilities, I realized that would not be necessary this year. During that time, I was inspired to write a poem based on the tradition associated with many churches in my formative years, whereby individuals would wear a red carnation to symbolize that their mother was living, whereas a white carnation represented that the mother of the wearer was deceased. I had not thought about that tradition for many years, since that was not case with the churches that I had been affiliated with in recent years. While thinking about my mother and all that she meant to me, I composed this piece: 

Poetic reflections on the first Mother's Day after my mother passes from this life.


 In loving memory of

Jessie Marie Johnson

June 16, 1920-May 4, 2002


From Red to White

 I took for granted the years when I wore a red

 Carnation, symbolic of a loving, living mother.

 Now for the first time I wear a white one instead,

 As I reflect in gratitude of another

 Place and time when her gentle presence eased my mind,

 Soothed my fears, dried my tears, and kissed my hurts away

 With the right word at the right time.  She leaves behind

 A treasury of memories on this Mother’s Day.

 Now I know where the blood red color has gone.

 Once extracted, it is changed into a new form.

 God’s love never dies but with each new sunrise lives on

 To sustain and remain with us in sunshine or storm.

 Life-giving blood has been transfused into my heart.

 Though she is not here, her love will never depart.           

                            May 12, 2002

                             Mother’s Day

Portrait of my wonderful mother, Jessie Marie Johnson

I have so many fond memories of my mother, and I recall celebrating her 81st birthday with a special tribute:

From My Mother’s Heart

 for Jessie Marie Johnson  

on her 81st Birthday   

June 16, 2001


The song is ended, but the melody lingers on.

 Irving Berlin

Like a wide river flowing endlessly,

Your songs flow and never stop once they start.

Lullabies soothed my cries to comfort me:

Sweetest melodies from my mother’s heart.

You never knew, but you taught me to sing.

I learned to forget the past and move on,

To pray and see what each new day would bring,

To never be average but go beyond.

You taught me songs of faith and hope and love,

To always excel and strive for success,

To set my affection on things above,

Reminding me of God’s desire to bless.

God reveals His love, inspired in each part

Of melodies flowing from my mother’s heart.

As I think of this poem, particularly the line: “You taught me songs of faith and hope and love. . .” I recall one of the celebrated “gypsy songs” of Antonin Dvorak, “Songs My Mother Taught Me.” Over the years this well-known art song has been part of the vocal repertoire of many noted concert singers, such as Paul Robeson, who offers this sterling rendition:

Natalia Macfarren has provided the English translation of the lyrics:  

Songs my mother taught me,
In the days long vanished;
Seldom from her eyelids
Were the teardrops banished.
Now I teach my children,
Each melodious measure.
Oft the tears are flowing,
Oft they flow from my memory’s treasure.

I recall that both my mother and I loved the Psalms of David, and as a teenager memorized the 27th Psalm which was especially dear to my mother. Since both of my parents have passed away, verse 10 of my favorite Psalm has become especially meaningful to me: “When my father and my mother forsake, then the Lord will take me up.” Once again this verse was the inspiration behind another poem which I have shared with a number of friends who have experienced the loss of both parents:

When My Father and Mother

When my father and my mother forsake me,

Then the Lord will take me up.

Psalm 27:10

When my father and mother have forsaken me

And have left behind a deep hole within my soul,

When I seem alone, then the Lord will take me up.

When I am without strength, the Lord will sustain me.

Though I am blessed, I still know moments that disrupt

When my father and mother have forsaken me.

I rise on wings of joy but sorrow surrounds me.

My flesh is weak and seems to prevail, though corrupt.

When I seem alone, then the Lord will take me up.

God sent His Word to strengthen and encourage me.

Time prepares the heart, but the end is still abrupt

When my father and mother have forsaken me.

When disappointments seem to unfold before me,

The thief comes only to distract and to interrupt.

When I seem alone, then the Lord will take me up.

Though I would reject it, I must taste the bitter cup,

But beyond death’s door, Christ prepared a place for me.                           

When my father and mother have forsaken me,

When I seem alone, then the Lord will take me up. 

On Mother’s Day, 2011, my heart overflows with gratitude to God for the treasury of precious memories that continue to sustain me since my beloved parents have passed away. In sharing remarks at both of their funerals, I was comforted and strengthened and encouraged by the Scriptures that speak of the hope of Christ’s return and our gathering together with those who have fallen asleep in Christ:

I Thessalonians 4:13-18

 13But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.

 14For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.

 15For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.

 16For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

 17Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

 18Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

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One Response to “Mother’s Day Reflections–2011”

  1. Melissa Johnson Says:

    Thank you for being a consistent reminder of how blessed I am to have a father like you. These words remind me to celebrate Grandma’s life and legacy but even more important to honor and celebrate you and mom even more. Thank you for the refreshing reminder. Love you.

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