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My mother
The story behind the poem

I wrote this poem in the days immediately following my mother's death and read it aloud over her open coffin as part of my own private service. She looked as if she had gone very far away.

I have made reference to as many of her gentle and endearing characteristics as I can, from the frivolity of her youth, through to the sadness of her separation from loved ones in her native United States of America and her final residence in Ely and love of its cathedral (the 'Ship of the Fens') in which she was a guide.

She never got to know what day of the week she was born on, but always said she must be Saturday's child who, in the rhyme, has to work hard for its living. In my opinion she was just as much Friday's child - loving and giving. To settle the matter I recently looked it up. She was in fact born on a Wednesday, like I was: both of us full of woe; although there is a kinder version which says: "Wednesday's child has much to know."

If you would like to know what day of the week you were born on, click here.

It is true that she helped people who were not much older than herself. At the age of nearly eighty she was giving assistance to a lady in her nineties. Although her own health was not wonderful - she suffered from glaucoma and underwent keyhole surgery in one of her knees - she was as active as she could be and never complained.

by Damaris West

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