Poem of the Week: Forever By My Side

Anne Marie Vale, Ph. D., Sarasota Branch


My mom, Rita, was born in 1920.

Money was scarce and troubles were plenty.

But her faith was strong and her spirit was stoic.

In fact, I’d say she was heroic.


You’d be hard pressed to find

Someone who loved mankind

More than my beloved mother

Whose motto was “to love one another.”


She was generous and beneficent,

Yet reserved and somewhat reticent.

You’d sense she wanted to express a bit more,

But was rather hesitant to open the door.


The Depression Era left its mark.

Her youthful days were sometimes dark.

But in those days you’d never reveal

Pain or heartache- you learned to conceal.


Mom was very bright and witty

Extremely dignified and really pretty.

Yes, Rita stood so proud and tall,

Possessing a memory that stunned us all!


Around the age of eighty-five

Mom’s spirit was amazingly alive!

But her exceptional memory that was one-of-a-kind

Was showing some traces of lagging behind.


And yet there appeared a silver lining,

Defying description or even defining!

Suddenly, my reserved and often shy mother

Took on the ebullient nature of another!


Rita just lifted her protective mask

And it seemed to be an effortless task!

Her nature was no longer shy and coy.

It transformed overnight into boundless joy!


Though dementia can dissolve into sadness and tears,

And episodes, too, of stress and fear.

I choose to remember how out-going and free

My mom became- free to “be me!”


But Rita’s carefree state would end

When she lost her husband and very best friend.

Yes, George, my beloved dad, was the true love of her life,

And his passing last December caused deep grief and strife.


Mom’s eyes now closed – no facial expression.

The doctor called it a terminal depression.

Those once bright eyes might glimmer for a time,

But they now reflected no reason or rhyme.


For the next  nine weeks, Rita barely spoke a word.

Though her eyes were shut, I’m sure that she heard

The love I’d express and the music I’d play;

But that mask of grief stayed day after day.


Yes, Rita so wanted to be with her George

And I prayed that God would quickly forge

A happy reunion between Mom and Dad.

To see Mom like this was just too sad!


Finally, one dark February night

Mom apparently saw the light!

All of a sudden, her eyes opened wide

While I expressed to her all I felt inside.


The mask had vanished as did her sorrow.

She now anticipated her new tomorrow.

We looked into each other’s eyes ‘til morn.

Rita knew she would soon be reborn.


And sure enough at 3:15,

With eyes wide open and totally serene,

Rita peacefully entered eternity,

Joining George in blissful unity.


Mom and Dad are in the presence of the Lord

With the angels and saints in one accord.

No more earthly mask and nothing left to hide,

And though I miss seeing them, they’re forever by my side.



  1. Beautiful story and poem with a beautiful ending… Or beginning.

  2. Christina Laurie says:

    Touching. I experienced the same thing with my parents. After my step-father, Pen, died, Mom had lost her soul mate and didn’t want to; 116 days later she joined him.

  3. Thanks so much for your kind comments, G. O.



  5. That was such a beautiful and heartfelt poem. Thank you so much for sharing that with us. I’m sure your parents are smiling down to you with pride from heaven!!

  6. Beautiful story of a special time in life when we reach that magical loving moment of returning home. Thank you for sharing your lovely story in such a moving poem.

  7. I’m misty eyed right now but absolutely loved the poem. Touched me personally.

  8. Thank you for this sensitive and poignant poem. The character depiction of the Depression Era generation is especially meaningful to me. My mother, recently passed, was of such character. Now I can more fully appreciate the legacy she and her contemporaries left to us.

    • First of all, I am sorry for your loss, Elizabeth. I’m glad the poem had some personal meaning for you. May God comfort and may your mom rest in peace.

  9. What a lovely remembrance of your parents. It is truly beautiful!