Wednesday, May 4, 2016

"Jesus Loves Me"/"What Fresh Hell is This?"

my current favorite photo of my mother jill
My mom died from a heart attack on Monday morning, much to my surprise.  She was overindulgent, compulsive, impulsive and took a lot of pride in being the person to appreciate the peculiar beauty of objects like old clothes, toys (vintage, dumpster-dived, bought at the 99 Cents Store, or bought brand new and for a fair amount of money she should have used to buy food instead), jewelry, blank books, old aprons and tin plates with chipped enamel surfaces.  One of her last texts to me was:

Reading kate favourite poet...I think my poetry was good.  couldn't write a poem to save my life...what do I want to write about...doll suitcases, blue with silver stars, plaid inside...circa 1954.

With all this appreciation for objects and the temporary thrill of discovering them, she loved buying and making me gifts, which she gave to me a million at a time -- I have boxes full of things from her that now seem like historical artifacts.  I have  bookshelves double-shelved with books from her, boxes of jewelry and collage books she made for me, and letters with their envelopes stuffed full of clip art and photos of her cats.  I was looking through some of her old letters and poems she'd sent me and I found this one that is a real fucking kick in the stomach because of her imagining her death, but it's also comforting because at the time she wrote it, she was still devoted to being a rebel:  she supported Ho Chi Minh during the Vietnam War, and threw herself whole-hog into each counterculture movement I dove into in my teens -- Goth, Heavy Metal and finally, Punk.  She'd been raised Catholic so of course she renounced organized religion, but you could tell she was really drawn to the idea of being saved and watched over by God and Jesus.  At the time she wrote this poem, I remember being annoyed by it, because I couldn't understand her nostalgia for religion, having not been raised religiously myself, and having been badly bullied by Christians in high school for dressing like a 'devil worshiper.'  
She finally stopped trying to be cool and tough in the last decade and got really involved in a church -- she was surrounded by members from her church as she died, which I am glad of, for her:


  1. Oh, I'm so sorry to hear this. Oof. The poem is great and the photo, too. Thanks for sharing your memories of your mom.