20 Lines A Day

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Today I turn 39.  My last year in my 30’s.  If I had my nearly 4 decades to do over, I’d stay home with my kids, which is a total contradiction because I hated staying at home when they were very young.  Now I’d do it all over again and for longer, just for more time with them.  I’d go to graduate school the first time I had the chance.  I’d go back to that first relationship in high school, and I’d say no to that boy.  Yes, it would change the course of my life, but I’d avoid the pain of losing a friend.  I’d make and keep better connections with friends of my parents and my extended family.  I had no idea how much I would wish I knew them better as I got older.   I’d demand more of myself.  The status quo and self pity would never be in my coping toolbox.  I’d learn about self care early on and make it a priority.  I’d stop myself from picking up terrible interpersonal habits that negatively affect my relationships.  My poor husband really has to deal with a lot of baggage.  I’d let people get close to me, I’d be more vulnerable.  And I’d expect it of other people too.  I’d take back every mean word I ever said to my sister.  Maybe we were just kids, but I’m sure it affected her, and she’s the only sibling I have.  I’d set better boundaries for myself, and I wouldn’t be afraid to say no.  I wouldn’t find a sick comfort in relationships that make me feel bad.  I’d talk to my mom about her illness, I’d share my fears about living a life without her.  I’d snuggle up next to her that night when she asked me to.   I’d understand that in order to feel great joy and compassion, you also, at times, have to allow yourself to feel great pain.  I’d never stop writing.  Or dancing.  Or letting the world know how smart I am.  Or crying.  I’d cry a LOT more.  And I’d pray more.  I’d figure out early what makes me passionate and pursue that.  Or not stop pursuing that.  I’d have a job that I love, that fulfills me, that I can’t wait to get up and do every morning.  I’d force my foot into that Cinderella slipper and never let it fall off my foot.

“Make the most of your regrets; never smother your sorrow, but tend and cherish it till it comes to have a separate and integral interest. To regret deeply is to live afresh.”

~Henry David Thoreau

Happy 39.  It’s going to be a great year.

©SpiritLed 2014

Happy Mothers Day…

English: jkklglh

English: jkklglh (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


I remember back when mom seemed mean


we never knew the things she had seen


as children we always knew it all


mom was there when we would fall


we took them for granted , mom still carried on


we didn’t always call , when we were gone


mothers are loving , mothers  are strong


mom lets us down softly when we are wrong


now that I’m older , all I can say


All Moms among you have a great day



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I want to share one of my favorite songs “You Were There.” My song is for both my parents. I was very close with my parents all of my life and watching them decline has been a painful process. My father died last May. My mother has severe dementia and cannot really speak. But she still recognizes me and smiles with joy whenever I am near. Clicking the blue link plays my song:

YOU WERE THERE-5/7/13 Copyright 2011 by Judy Unger

Below are links to stories on my other blog:




I’ll let my lyrics and pictures tell my story.

 To Mom I was so loved Breakfast w. Mom Mother's Love With my parents and younger Judy & her Dad looking at her


Copyright 2011 by Judy Unger

All my life, every day

You were there when I’d need you

All the time, I just knew; you’d be there

and you’d see me through

I’ve always known, I’m not alone . . .

You were so strong

You’d pick me up when I’d fall down

So I can see all the strength you gave me

Although I try, it’s hard to say goodbye

to someone who’s loved me all of my life

And when I’m sad, because you’re not there

I’ll still see your love everywhere

Everything that I did you’d applaud

You were right there watching me

as I grew, sharing joy and my heartache, too

I always knew, that I had you . . .

Now I’m so strong

I picked you up when you fell down

I’ve learned to see just how strong I could be

Although I try, it’s hard to say goodbye

to someone who’s loved me all of my life

And when I’m sad, because you’re not there

I’ll still see your love everywhere

When you are gone I’ll say a prayer;

and I’ll remember how you were there

Mom 2  My mother had a good day

WIth mom & dad 1 Grief 3 IN THE GARDEN 2 IN THE GARDEN

© 2013 by Judy Unger, http://www.myjourneysinsight.com and 20 Lines A Day. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Certain Things

A shell, a piece of bone, a tumbleweed,
some driftwood, Indian beads, a little stone…
these things hold memories, and how I need

them. Grandchildren learned names of shells with speed
from my collection. Don’t forget pinecone
to add to shell and bone and tumbleweed.

My mother cooked Thanksgiving once to feed
us in the pinewoods. Warm that year, sun shone.
These things hold memories. O, how I need

remembrance of the driftwood she would plead
with us to bring up from the beach. Windblown,
a shell, a piece of bone, a tumbleweed

arrived onshore. And then we would impede
their further travels, as our mom was prone
to loving things of nature. They, her need,

defined her as might the Apostles’ Creed.
Each lovely signature stood all alone
in her home, shell and bone and tumbleweed.
I understand the memories I need.

(a villanelle)


Finding New Places

There were her clothes, slacks in every color, warm sweaters, decorated sweatshirts, comfy shoes, even her underwear. I sat on her bed surrounded by it all. She was no longer here to wear any of it, but here I was, looking at it, feeling sad and perplexed.

What would I do with it?

Well, first is her blue and green winter coat. My mother’s favorite colors were blue and green, and this coat was so her. Perhaps I could wear it? No, it’s just a little too big. Seventeen years later, it still hangs in my closet.

I found new homes for the shoes. That wasn’t difficult.

But other things? Oh my. I wore some of her sweaters for awhile. I couldn’t wear the slacks because they had had to be large enough to wear over her left-leg prosthesis. Still, giving them away tugged at me.

You might wonder about the underwear. I thought of just throwing it out. But she had worn it, her most intimate and pretty things. I’d heard that certain little consignment shops took things like this so I washed up all her bras, panties and slips one last time. They looked like snow they were so white, as if never worn. Some were brand-new.

I sat there on her bed with its blue and green quilted spread, tears falling down at the import of my decisions. I thought, what will my children do with my things when the time comes? Oh look, her jewelry.

She had the most beautiful jewelry, chunky necklaces and dangly earrings. With her short straight dark hair those earrings looked terrific. She always wore six silver bangle bracelets on her left wrist. I have those still, and some of her other pieces. Well, I should admit that I kept quite a bit of her jewelry. She had exquisite taste.

I looked around her apartment. Pots and pans, dishes, silverware, towels, linens, bedspreads, pictures, furniture, decorations. I felt overwhelmed.

Today her round glass-topped table and matching chairs, her couch, loveseat and ottoman, and one twin bed are in our home. Some of her art and all of her poetry are here as well. I have the green pitcher with the fluted edging, which fits beautifully into my living room. She loved it, and I love it. It’s as if we have wound our love of it together to keep it important. I have some of her silverware and serving pieces.

Other than that, I have her last calendar upon which she had decorated the squares for everyone’s birthdays and anniversaries. I have the little red sparkly heart which she used to wear on sweatshirts. I kept her black baseball-type cap with the gold sparkles. My granddaughter loved it so, so I gave it to her. My mom would approve.

So far I have named things. The best I have are the feelings of love and security she gave me, the sound of her voice that resounds in my memories, the help she gave me with tenderness all through her life, and the blessings of having been her daughter.

I still am.

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My mother used to tell my brother and me that she’d played shortstop for the Brooklyn Dodgers. I never questioned that. You would have to have known her. She was so convincing. This became family lore, and eventually she told the story that she named me Maggie because “it has two Gs in it and they stand for gullible, gullible.

We had many a laugh over this throughout the years. When she was 64 and first became ill, she kept her sense of humor through the six years of her illness and dying. Her mind remained sharp.

She died at the too-young age of 70, and we carried out her wishes, to scatter her ashes at the beach. We did this on her November birthday which, that year, was Thanksgiving. I know I was putting it off. Finally our son-in-law said, “If you want to do this today we should get going because soon it will be dark.” So after our daughter, her new husband, our son and his girlfriend, my in-laws, and my husband and I had had our dinner, we headed out to the beach. I carried that black box in my mittened hands.

My stomach churned. I didn’t know what her remains would look like. Yes, I had that fear of the unknown. But when I opened it, it was all grey ash. That’s it. I was wearing a purple down jacket. I whooshed those ashes to the wind, and some of them got on my jacket. I loved that. And I felt good that we were doing as she desired.

Five months earlier, after the visitation at the funeral home, my brother, his wife, our children, and my husband and I stood in the parking lot with blue and green balloons. Blue and green were her favorite colors so there was no question as to what colors to get. Each balloon was on a long ribbon, and attached was a little white card. We decided we were going to write messages on those cards before releasing them heavenward.

Well, if you’ve read my writings you know that I often tend to be wordy, and I was trying mightily to write every possible significant thing I could think of on that little card. I was writing so small, and up the sides of the card. It was as if I couldn’t get it all said. Fortunately, my mom and I had said everything to each other while she was still alive.

Finally everyone was done. At the last minute I said, “Would anyone mind if we read what we wrote?”

And my brother said, “No. You go first.” He must have known that it would have been the longest. Of course he was right. Then the others read theirs. My brother read last. Its simplicity and poignancy touches me still:

Shortstop for the Brooklyn Dodgers.

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The Phone Call

The phone would have rung about 11:00 this morning.

“Happy Thanksgiving, honey.”

My mom. And she did it on Christmas, and Easter, and our birthdays, and our anniversary, always that call to begin the day.

It’s been 17 years since I’ve heard that phone call. It was her habit. Call the kids and wish them a happy ____________(whatever). Her voice, tuned to the emotional strings of the day, rang into the depths of me. I could depend on it. Like clockwork, as they say. No call this morning, no voice…

…except in my heart, where I will always hear it.


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