My Mama by
(27 Stories)

Prompted By Women We Admire

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For my mama on her 67th Birthday

My Mama taught me

When I was 5 weeks old, my father was killed in a car accident,

my mama tried not to be sad when she nursed me, so I would not be sad,

my mama taught me:

Today is the day-

to laugh, to learn, to say I love you.

Today is the day.


When I was a small child, my mama gave me gifts of unending love,

Your father is still with you, and you have another father’s love as well,

My mama taught me:

Love doesn’t end

relationships cha.nge, life shifts, energy moves.

Love doesn’t end


As I grew, my mama painted, wove, created,

gave me nostalgic memories of linseed oil and turpentine

My mama taught me:

You are given artistic gifts, give them away

don’t wait for recognition or to be the best.

Do what you love.


When I struggled, when I was outraged at the world’s cruelty,

when I was seeking to be as others,

My mama taught me:

You are a precious gift, just as you are

don’t let other’s decide that for you.

You are exactly who you should be, right now.


Whenever we went out into the world, or observed creation

in our own backyard or Alaska, or camping,

My mama taught me:

All life is wondrous; all things support each other,

nothing is without meaning or importance.

Revere all living things


When I dreamed, or imagined or fell silent-

when I rebelled, held my ground, or stood up

My mama taught me:

Honor your inner life; it is as important as what happens outside

Your heart knows what your mind cannot fathom.

Follow your heart


When, as a teenager I was disillusioned with the world,

when I judged others, or in fear avoided differences

My mama taught me:

A light resides in each person, no matter how buried

in pain and experience, in anger or hatred

All human beings are innately worthy of love and respect.


When I grew and wanted to make my world better,

when I was overwhelmed with the work needing doing

My mama taught me: 

Give of your overflow, not of your essence

be a pebble in a pond, start your kindness here.

Know each thing you do makes a difference


As I had my own children and feared for their well-being,

wanting to protect them, suddenly cautious of every person’s intentions

My mama taught me:

Trust life, nurture love, let them grow as they are meant to-

each sorrow carves out space for the next joy.

All life is this package deal


Now as my children are grown, and I strive to be the best me

sometimes discouraged, sometimes jubilant, sometimes peaceful,

My mama taught me:

Those of us, who are less broken, must help those of us who are more so,

each of us has an obligation to let our light shine, and reflect other’s light back to them. Everything is unfolding as it should


In the great mystery of life, in the hurried pace of our doing,

there is a being-ness that sustains us, and links us,

My mama taught me:

There are no true endings; there are circles and transitions,

there are movements and stillness.

And there is always, always love

Profile photo of January Handl January Handl

Characterizations: moving


  1. Laurie Levy says:

    What a beautiful tribute to a very wise and loving woman. Her lessons about love, kindness, art, respect for others, and being your authentic self are powerful.

  2. Betsy Pfau says:

    A truly beautiful poem, January. You have a rare way to express yourself and I was caught up in the way you described the lessons and gifts from your mother. She sounds like she was an amazing person. You were, indeed, lucky to have had her.

  3. A poignant and moving tribute, January. Your mother’s beauty shines through you.

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