My mother Peg Wilke died peacefully at home on Sept. 6, 2014. 

She made me promise

we’d have a goodbye party

and nobody be sad. I promised.


I brought the flowers and balloons,

A cloud of balloons floating above our heads

above the coffee and cookies and punch

in the Friendship Hall of the church.


After the party,

I brought the balloons home

And they floated above my bowed head

until gravity got the better of them.

By morning, I had a balloon rug.


In an old photograph I love,

she looks as happy as I’ve ever seen her,

head thrown back, laughing with my dad.

She said that must have been taken

when she heard she was pregnant with me.


Which meant she loved me for

the 30 weeks before I was born.

and every day, hour, and minute since.

Sometimes it was too much

Sometimes it wasn’t enough.

I took her for granted.

I moved far away.

I had other things to do.


Even so,

she loved me for 24,000 days

and never turned away.

For 600,000 hours,

she never said a mean thing behind my back

In 34 million minutes,

she never walked off in someone else’s arms.


The only trouble was,

I was an only child.

She set the bar so high,

I expect everyone to love me that much.


She forgot many things, but never my name.

She made me raise my right hand

and promise that I wouldn’t be sad very long

without her.


I promised, fingers crossed.


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8 thoughts on “Promises”

  1. Jennifer, the love between you and your mom is precious. May you both be blessed as you continue the journey, together in heart and spirit. ❤ ❤

  2. Jennifer… my deepest condolences on this enormous loss. You may or may not find this strange, but last night I dreamed of you and woke this morning wondering about your mother. I went off to work at hospice and thought of you several times through the day– and found your post, when I finally had time to read the blogs I follow. Your poem is deeply touching and I’m holding you in my thoughts. Try to remember that you gave your mother so much love, and for all that she gave you, you clearly returned it. She died knowing she was loved, and that… is a true blessing. Hugs, Dawn

  3. Dear Jen,
    I’m sorry to hear that Peggie died, Mary’s last sister. That leaves just you now of Mary’s wonderful family. It’s all so very sad. You were a good caregiver to your mother, and to Mary too. Our lives in this world — the only one I believe in — are all too short, but you’ve lived your own life well and done what you could to enrich your mother’s last days. I’m glad you continue to show good health. Myself, I suffered a stroke four months ago; I at least retain a clear mind even if I can’t speak. Like I said, life is too short, and I can wish that mine were only half over, but I know it’s not. May you live many more happy days, even as you are sad now.

  4. My heart goes out to you Jen. I am glad you were able to be there for her, and to have had her with you for so long.

  5. So beautiful, Jennifer. I’m sorry I was not there for the memorial. I lover her so much and was glad I could see her that time. I’ll be thinking of her and you. I’m now in Texas on Padre Island. Will be home soon.

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