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A Forward Look, Backwards September 30, 2013

Posted by nrhatch in Home & Garden, Poetry.

Today is Mom’s Birthday!

She’s “twenty-one plus” . . . and holding.

Happy Birthday, Mom!


A few years ago, we wanted mom and dad to move into a smaller place.  Mom didn’t want to move.  Dad was on the fence.  To encourage her to reconsider, I sent her a poem for her birthday ~ A Forward Look, Backwards.


A Forward Look, Backwards

Mom, as you know, we’ve moved around a bunch
One place at breakfast, another by lunch
In contrast, you’re more like an Oak tree
Roots deep in the soil, branches floating free

From the coast of Maine, to Paris at night
Hiking and biking, you’ve seen many a sight
But your roots remained in the Garden State
And your memories there have grown in weight

For forty-three years, you’ve stayed in one place
Adding rings ’round your trunk with grit and grace
Roots sinking deeper, memories growing
But, Mom, at long last – your age is showing


Four children grown, and off on their own
The seeds you planted have now been resown
And most of your rooms sit empty and bare
Silent echoes of laughter filling the air

One thing we have learned over the years
Moving about is no cause for tears
In each place, our memories came too
Now, I ask, what are you going to do?

Will you stay in a house, too big by far
Or . . . “would you like to swing on a star?
Carry moonbeams home in a jar
And be better off than you are . . .

Or would you rather be a mule?” *

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOM . . . whatever you decide.


The poem didn’t work.

A few more birthdays came and went.  In time, life made the decision for her ~ dad died last June and our childhood house has since been sold.


Life’s like that . . . always moving forward, even if we’re looking backwards.


Aah . . . that’s better!

* * * * *

* The rest of the stanza from Would You Like To Swing On A Star:

A mule is an animal with long funny ears
He kicks up at everything he hears
His back is brawny but his brain is weak
He’s just plain stupid with a stubborn streak . . .



1. Rainee - September 30, 2013

Very moving (and creative)!

nrhatch - September 30, 2013

Thanks, Rainee. Mom has adjusted nicely to living with my brother and his family in Colorado. And when I told her that we’d sold the house to a couple with kids, she was pleased.

Life propels us forwards . . . no matter what.

2. shreejacob - September 30, 2013

Happy Birthday to your mom, Nancy 🙂
I find it commendable that your mom chose to “dig in her roots”, I don’t know if I would be like that…new places make me feel excited..a little frightened, but gives this “new chapter” thingy too. I hope she’s comfortable and building new wonderful memories in her new place 🙂

nrhatch - September 30, 2013

She is comfortable, but not building new memories. Her “memory maker” is shot. And she doesn’t remember much about the past either ~ but she still remembers her 4 kids. So that’s cool.

shreejacob - September 30, 2013

Aww..okay. I’m glad that she does remember her children..:)

nrhatch - September 30, 2013

Me too! She’s sometimes is a bit confused about which grandkids are which and who belongs to who . . . but, thus far, she’s been able to keep the 4 of us in focus.

3. katecrimmins - September 30, 2013

Your mother was lucky. My mother wouldn’t agree to move (my father had died a long time before) until her health forced her to make the decision. At that point, we couldn’t get her in any nice place (they all had waiting lists). She ended up staying in her home for another 6 months and then she died. The family home did not have a bathroom or bedroom on the first floor and the yard was large with lots of work. It was harder for her and for all of us who were helping to care for her. I keep her lesson in mind and will downsize in the next few years myself. Good post.

nrhatch - September 30, 2013

Downsizing while we’re still in the “bloom of youth” makes sense ~ when we’re young enough to make friends with new neighbors.

My mother never really agreed to move. She and dad would agree in theory but not in practice. Last summer, after the memorial service for dad, my younger brother and I stayed with her for a few weeks while she had spine surgery. Once I got the go ahead from her doctor, I held her to her promise to move to Florida for 7 weeks of physical therapy.

But the day before departure she said, “I’m NOT going.”

So I said, “Well, I’m leaving tomorrow morning with you in the car or without you.” Then I held my breath.

But in the morning, she was dressed and ready to go. Yay!

I’d like to say it was smooth sailing from that point forward, but it hasn’t been. We are now is a “good place.” She is very content living in Colorado in an attached apartment in my younger brother’s house.

4. katecrimmins - September 30, 2013

That’s pretty perfect. Independence yet someone close by.

nrhatch - September 30, 2013

So much better than when I worried about her and dad 24/7 . . . with neighbors calling to say that we needed to “Do Something!” 😕

5. lindalitebeing - September 30, 2013

You mentioned the Garden State, Is that where you are from? My junior high and high school years were spent in South Jersey where my parents bought their first and only house. I am glad your mom has adjusted and has the best of both worlds in her own apartment,

by the way, you and Russel Ray both have mothers who were born today! He is a great photographer, cat lover and cool guy.

I love synchronicity 🙂

nrhatch - September 30, 2013

Thanks, Linda. Yes ~ BFF and I are both from NJ. We grew up in Monmouth County and later lived near Philly.

We miss the pizza, the bagels, and the subs! :mrgreen:

lindalitebeing - September 30, 2013

where near Philly? that’s where I have been since college – although I moved around several times within the city limits. Don’t you mean hoagies ? 🙂

nrhatch - September 30, 2013

We grew up calling them “subs” because our favorite sub shop was Joyce’s Subs in Lincroft.

We lived in Cherry Hill for 8 years.

lindalitebeing - September 30, 2013

that’s where I lived and mom still lives. I went to Cherry Hill East, what a small world after all 🙂

maybe we have met in ” real life” !

nrhatch - September 30, 2013

We lived around the corner from the CH Mall . . . and shopped at the Mall about 2x a year. 😉

6. Grannymar - September 30, 2013

That stage of losing independence creeps up when we are snoozing. I am no way ready for it, but since I live alone, over 100 miles from any of my family and have health complications, I will have to start thinking and planning for it.

nrhatch - September 30, 2013

At least talk to your family about it. My parents started the conversation at the right time . . . but they kept postponing the decision making process. It was HARD on all of us. 😕

7. Three Well Beings - September 30, 2013

Oh my but this is beautiful! This is a frequent topic in our household, too. My parents do live across the street…which keeps us planted like that oak. We have “thoughts” about all sorts of stages we are entering and it does require both flexibility and creativity. I do like the way you entered into the conversation with your mom. I know that my decisions about the future are a lot lighter when I’m sharing them with my kids, both of whom I trust. Ah…I feel better, too, but a little melancholy. 🙂 When it comes to topics related to aging, I enter in with just a bit of tension in the old body language! Bits and pieces! Happy Birthday to your sweet mom. ox

nrhatch - September 30, 2013

I didn’t realize that your parents lived across the street. That’s convenient when they need a light bulb changed or they can’t get the cable box to work after a power failure.

Melancholy is the right word. I don’t want time to stand still. I don’t want to go back to any point in time and stay there. But I would love to be able to time travel around, re-visiting favorite memories and people (like my grandparents and my dad).

8. Andra Watkins - September 30, 2013

Happy Happy!

nrhatch - September 30, 2013

Mom sounds like she’s having a GREAT day. Thanks, Andra.

9. lindalitebeing - September 30, 2013

You lived on the West side, I know the mall, had shopped there many times, but lived much closer to Echelon Mall 🙂

very cool Nancy ~

nrhatch - September 30, 2013

Gotcha. We used to go to Fuddrucker’s “out east.”

lindalitebeing - September 30, 2013

I don’t know them, what timeframe did you spend there? I was there during the seventies,

nrhatch - September 30, 2013

We didn’t land in CH until 1992 . . .

10. Eliz@MirthandMotivation - September 30, 2013

Wishing your mom a very Happy Birthday! she looks well and you sound well too. 🙂

nrhatch - September 30, 2013

Thanks, E! Last time I swung by Mirth and Motivation, you hadn’t posted in several months.

Hope all is well with you and yours.

Eliz@MirthandMotivation - September 30, 2013

Doing better… TY! Lots of health and family matters but the clouds are lifting. It’s all good. Hope you and yours are doing well too. Thanks for asking. 😉

nrhatch - October 1, 2013

Glad the clouds are parting, E. Last year was a challenge for all of us, this year has been much easier. Hope you’ve got sunnier days on the horizon.

11. barb19 - September 30, 2013

Even if we are reluctant to move forward, life propels us in that direction no matter what. Your mom must feel safe and secure now, living with your brother – and that must give you peace of mind.
Happy Birthday to your mom Nancy!

nrhatch - September 30, 2013

Yup. No matter how hard we try to get time to stand still, it keeps moving forward. Mom sounded great when I talked to her today. She’s got peace of mind . . . which gives me peace of mind.

12. Eric Tonningsen - September 30, 2013

Always forward. Plain, simple and what it is. Happy Birthday to your Mom! 🙂

nrhatch - September 30, 2013

Thanks, Eric!

“We cannot put off living until we are ready. The most salient characteristic of life is its urgency, “here and now” without any possible postponement. Life is fired at us point-blank.” ~ Jose Ortega y Gasset

13. sufilight - October 1, 2013

This was a very touching poem and nice photos. Life does move us forward and best to be in the flow. This applies to careers and jobs, they will end at some point. If we don’t make changes, changes will be made for us, and usually not in a positive way. I read a few of the comments and nice to read your mom is living in an attached apt .

nrhatch - October 1, 2013

Thanks, Marie. Good point. When we are obtuse, lessons bang us over the head with increasing frequency until we “get IT.”

Of course, as soon as we get IT, the next IT appears on the horizon. Life’s like that. 😉

14. Pix Under the Oaks - October 1, 2013

Late one day but Happy Birthday to your Mom and I am happy she is doing well in Colorado with your brother!

nrhatch - October 1, 2013

Thanks, Pix. She sounded great when we chatted yesterday. Content and peace filled.

15. jannatwrites - October 2, 2013

I hope she had a happy birthday. This statement is so true: “Life’s like that . . . always moving forward, even if we’re looking backwards.”

nrhatch - October 2, 2013

Thanks, Janna. Mom enjoyed her birthday . . . capped off with an Ice Cream Cake!

16. anotherday2paradise - June 7, 2021

Change is always happening, whether we like it or not. I think if we’re wise, we know when is the right time to let go of the familiar and embrace something more suitable. My dear MiL never hankers after her house and all the possessions she once had. She’s learned to be content in the present and grateful for the care she’s receiving in her old age, which is such a blessing to her family who love her and only want what’s best for her.

nrhatch - June 7, 2021

I’m glad your MIL continues to get such good care. Reading this post, I’m amazed at the changes we’ve faced in the past 8 years.

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