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A Poem: Betty, With My Mother’s Eyes (Two Sad Hearts Meet)

January 7, 2014

Betty, With My Mother’s Eyes
(Two Sad Hearts Meet)

by Mary McAvoy

I am the stranger in your native town
but you greet me with a smile.
You forget we met last year,
when I was here a short while.

You say you’re 87 now,
the age Don was when he died –
three years ago, so suddenly,
with no time to say goodbye.

You say it was in ’55
that you and he came to this spot,
and it’s so hard to keep it up now,
making decisions with only your thought.

The leaves are falling and winter’s coming,
and we talk about the chill in the air.
You say you’ll be selling your home soon,
you’re thinking early next year.

You look away from me
and stare across your lawn.
I know you’re seeing something –
for me, too far beyond.

“We’d been on errands and just arrived back home,
when he reached across the seat.
He slumped over and that was it –
I never again heard him speak.”

We’re quiet now and I stand there wishing
there were more that I could do.
I hope that simply by listening
I am a comfort to you.

“I’ll be moving to one of those places,
as soon as the house is sold.”
You assure us both, “It’s not a nursing home,
but I can’t think now what they’re called.”

“Does the place have a name?” I ask,
hoping for a clue.
I want to know where to find you, Betty,
in the spring, when things come up new.

Because here’s the truth of it, Betty,
it caught me by surprise,
when we first met I could see it –
you have my mother’s eyes.

I know you’re not my mother,
you aren’t so like her I can see.
But when I look into your eyes, Betty,
it’s as if she’s come to me.

Something in the way you look at me,
I think you know it, too.
It hasn’t been chance meetings
when I’ve run into you.

As we say goodbye we smile,
though we’re both reluctant to part.
As I walk away you call to me,
“Remind me next year we’ve met!”

It’s all I can do through my tears
to reply to you, “I sure will!”
You’re the best thing in this living world
to help me feel near her still.

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