A poem from “Not All Are Weeping”
In April, my first chapbook will be published by Main Street Rag Publishing Company. This is one of the poems in the book. I love to remember the stories about my mother, and writing poetry is one of the ways I can do it.
Mildred Ethel Felsberg was my mother and the mother of four of us altogether. After our father died in 2014, Mom began to readjust her eating habits to her own preferences. She had always loved eggs — in fact, she owned chickens for a number of years and enjoyed gathering and cooking fresh eggs — but what with my father’s heart issues, they had been eating oatmeal and cereal instead of eggs for some time, only allowing eggs once or twice a week, the recommendations at the time for good health. When she was on her own, she wanted eggs, though she always felt a little guilty about eating so many of them.
We tried to convince her that eggs were very good for her. Once, Mom confessed to one of her nieces that she had eaten three fried eggs that morning. Her niece kindly gave permission: “At your age, it’s ok to eat three fried eggs,” she said. Eventually, two eggs and Raisin Swirl toast became Mom’s daily breakfast. Sometimes she would boil a few potatoes to go with it or put some bacon in the microwave. Along with coffee and orange juice and a glass of milk, and whatever pills she had to take, this was the morning feast she usually prepared for herself.
Though mom lived alone in the house our father had built for us in the 1950s, my sister, Gail, was the primary caregiver for her in her nineties. Several times Gail stopped in to check on her in the morning and found mom on the floor, having fallen in the night. Sometimes this meant a trip to the hospital and maybe to rehab for a few months. She broke her back in several places, her leg, and her shoulder at different times. During her last stay at the rehabilitation facility, mom was afraid she would never get to go home again. Once she did, she told us she didn’t want to go back anymore and refused trips to the hospital.
Of course, Gail found her on the floor again shortly after that. When the paramedics arrived, in answer to their questions, she said all she wanted was to have her two eggs for breakfast.
In a way, two fried eggs became the reason mom kept on going to 95. I have read that everyone needs a reason to get up in the morning. In Japan, there is an ancient teaching about ikigai, a concept that means “your reason for being.” (See further explanation here) Your ikigai is what brings you joy and inspires you to get out of bed every day. I don’t think two fried eggs were mom’s life purpose, but the bliss part certainly applies. They gave her a good reason to get up each morning.
While some might think this not profound or meaningful enough, I think mom’s love of her breakfast ritual was characteristic of her. She found joy in simple things. Birds at the feeder, deer sleeping under the bushes in the backyard, every single daffodil that bloomed, tiny flowers in the grass. She found reasons to be happy in many things, and as her world became smaller, these things were those that were close at hand.
Anyway, here is a poem I wrote about mom in her 90s. If you would like to see more of my poetry, follow this link.
My Sister Visits Our 94-year-old Mother Every Day
Three times in one year I found her
crumpled on the floor with broken bones.
She had been there all night. In pain,
afraid unable to reach
the phone. Each time she spent months
at Our Lady’s Residence.
Do you blame my hesitant
step into her house?
My fuss when she hasn’t eaten? When papers
scatter like her mind across the big kitchen table?
I’d like to turn leave her
like she used to be.
Will she stay today? Maybe she’ll touch
my shoulder or kiss the top of my head?
(Will she see the pile of food
I spilled under the table? I tried
to pick it up). Her nagging riles me and later
Still, I remember when I was sick.
How she cleaned up everything,
including me. Cooked me two
eggs and toast for breakfast. She made them
so pretty, yolks round and yellow.
4 thoughts on “Our Mother Ate Two Fried Eggs for Breakfast Every Day”
Jean, just want you to know I loved this whole piece. Touched my heart thinking about my mom!
Nice to see your name in my inbox, Barb
Thanks for reading. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to my mom being gone.
So glad it was meaningful to you. Don’t think I’ll ever get used to my mom being gone.
Nice to see you name in my inbox. Glad you liked the story. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to my mom being gone. After all she was there at the very beginning of me, as your mother with you. A very special relationship