Poetry · Writing

In memory of my mother, Arlene Miller (August 24, 1924-May 10, 2005) by Tracy Diane Miller

My name is Tracy Miller. I founded Arlene Miller Creative Writing in memory of my mother, Arlene Miller (August 24, 1924-May 10, 2005) to recognize & support all forms of creative expression.

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In memory of my mother, Arlene Miller (August 24, 1924-May 10, 2005) by Tracy Diane Miller

How could a person have so much sadness in her life yet give so much happiness?

That was our mother. She wasn’t the kind of person who spent her days being miserable about what she lost or lived her life complaining. She didn’t wallow in regret. Instead, she appreciated what she had and acknowledged her blessings.

Arlene Miller was the product of a bygone era.

For the little girl who was born in rural Virginia on August 24, 1924, she had some big dreams that went unrealized.

 

Our mother loved to sing. She had a beautiful soprano voice. I remember that she told me that she wanted to become an opera singer. Sadly, she didn’t have the confidence in her talent to take the chance to pursue her dream. I’m sure she had regret about that, but she never showed it. There was no bitterness about what might have been, just appreciation of what was.

And what was: Her children.

I never had any doubt that she loved us because she said it and showed it on a daily basis. We lost our father when we were 4 years old so our mother had to carry both the emotional and financial burdens that two parents in the home might share. She didn’t have much in terms of financial resources so our childhood wasn’t about material things. We didn’t do family vacations. Going to Disney World wasn’t something we would ever experience as children. But she made trips to the zoo or the park seem almost magical. For the latter, our mother would pack a picnic basket. We would spend hours talking and laughing. She would listen, really listen to us. She was our friend. Yet, she maintained the line of parental respect that we knew not to cross.

Our mother loved books. I remember that when she wasn’t reading with us at home, she took us to the library. The recreation center in our Philadelphia inner city neighborhood was questionable at best so we didn’t participate in summer activities. She couldn’t afford to send us to a summer camp. So, we spent our summers with our mother who used her imagination to create memorable activities for us. Those were the happiest summers.

Even watching the yearly airing of The Wizard of Oz on television became a big deal. We had a small black and white television so we couldn’t really appreciate the distinction between Kansas and Oz. Kansas was dull black and white while Oz was bright black and white. The ruby slippers on our television were bright black shoes. But that didn’t matter. Our mother would spend the day making a lot food. She even bought small gifts for us. Watching The Wizard of Oz was our yearly party tradition.

Judy Garland, Deanna Durbin and Debbie Reynolds were some of our mother’s favorite singers. Yet, along with the musical style of this famous trio, I can still hear our mother’s beautiful soprano voice covering these songs making me believe in that land over the rainbow or that I could forget my troubles and get happy. Like Durbin, my mother made me believe that loving to whistle makes you merry or like Reynolds that singing in the rain brings a smile to one’s face. Garland’s Meet Me In St. Louis remains my all-time favorite movie even after I first saw it in 1975. Today, every time I sing “The Trolley Song,” I recall the amateur duet I performed with our mother. Such golden memories!

Our mother loved celebrating our birthday. Having twins who were born on July 4th was Fate’s doing, but our mother made sure to let us know that the day would be emphasized more as our birthday than as the national holiday that it was. She would begin the week with the “birthday countdown” telling everyone who asked (and probably more than a few people who could care less) that our birthday was in a week. Each day that passed to our approaching birthday became an important part of the countdown. We were excited because our mother made it exciting.

It is tricky having twins. Our mother emphasized that our ‘twinship” was special: we began our lives as “wombmates.” We would always be a team. Yet, we were individuals. So while in school, kids often called us Stacy and the other one or Stacy and whatever (yes, I was the “other one” and the “whatever” in the equation), we were Stacy and Tracy to our mother. She recognized Stacy’s painful shyness (yes, folks. Stacy was once extremely shy. Hard to believe, right?) and our mother recognized that I was the talker and somewhat weird and deep thinking child. In 1972 when was 7 years old, I told her that I wanted to become a Poet Laureate. Not exactly the kind of career aspiration a mother expects from her 7 year old. Our mother didn’t dismiss my dreams of a career as a poet, but she was also a realist. Because I also loved to read, enjoyed old “Perry Mason” reruns and picked up the phrase “let’s weigh the evidence” to argue a point, our mother said to me “you should become a lawyer.” Fast forward to Friday, July 3, 1987: I received from Ivy League The University of Pennsylvania Law School a full academic scholarship that covered my tuition and fees. I graduated from law school on Monday, May 14, 1990. I will always be grateful for our mother; her encouragement was instrumental in my ability to achieve all that I was fortunate to achieve in my life. I would spent nearly three decades in the legal profession. Yet, my dream for a writing career hadn’t died.

I never became a Poet Laureate. But I write poetry on a daily basis and in 2016, I published numerous poetry books and became a full-time writer.  Our mother would love that.

Our mother would also love that Stacy is a writer. She would love reading our work in The Nerdy Girl Express and be happy for us that we have so much love and enjoyment writing for this online publication.

Our mother would love that Stacy (who as a child was enrolled in speech class to conquer her stuttering and who also had a serious aversion to reading in public) is the Marketing Manager for The Nerdy Girl Express. It is Stacy who secures the interviewing opportunities for our writing team. Our mother would love that Stacy writes articles EVERY DAY for The Nerdy Girl Express and also writes television recaps for several shows for Starry Constellation Magazine all the while holding down a full-time career in clinical trials.

Our mother would love that I can use my lifelong enjoyment of books to write book reviews and to interview authors.

Our mother would love that I write poetry to honor anniversaries, birthdays, weddings and to offer comfort to others in their most trying times.

I’ve always believed that the very best parts of me, I inherited from our mother.

Today is May 10, 2017. I can’t believe that our mother has been gone for 12 years.

Arlene Miller was the product of a bygone era.

She may be physically gone. But she is always present in our hearts. Our hearts will never say goodbye.
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My heart will never say goodbye, a poem in memory of my mother by Tracy Diane Miller

On May 10, 2005, my heart broke,
As you were no longer alive,
And my soul began to question,
from this sorrow how would I survive?

Every sunrise has been so very hard,
Since that most painful day,
Still I try to appreciate,
When each tomorrow comes my way.

In those quiet moments, I felt ashamed because I was so angry with you,
Why did you have to leave?
Would my pain ever stop?
This was something I couldn’t believe.

But you kept your promise,
Since I was very young you always said,
In my dreams you would come,
Whenever I felt sad or afraid.

I kept my promise too,
My heart will never say goodbye,
I will never let you go,
For I love you always is why.
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I awoke this morning to the sound of your voice, a poem in memory of my mother by Tracy Diane Miller

I awoke this morning to the sound of your voice,
As I so often do,
For you may live in Heaven,
But there is not a day when I don’t hear you.

I hear you when I feel doubtful,
You encourage me as you always will,
I think that you give my Muse the words,
As I explore my writing skill.

I hear you when I hurt,
From the acts of those who betray,
You tell me how toxic they are to my life,
And applaud because I refuse to let them poison my day.

I hear you in my memories,
Of the person I was in my past,
I hear the sound of your laughter,
A joy that I’m desperate to make it last.

I hear you as my guiding sound,
Through the chaos I need to survive
I hear you as you help me through my fears,
Because of you I continue to thrive.

I awoke this morning to the sound of your voice,
Like chiseled perfection in every way,
I awoke this morning to the sound of your voice
As my heart celebrates you each and every day.

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