My grandmother died when my mother was five,
our only photo shows her cradling
the last child, smiling over
the lace-drenched, long white christening gown.
In family memory she was gentle
with a snap to her tongue
and a Scot’s practical bent.
I hope I inherited some of that.
The only gift I know for sure
was breast cancer.
Her image floats to the front
of my mind as I grapple
with the loss of two friends
and the advanced cancer
of two others. I feel her smile
as I sign up for a long-desired
trip to Costa Rica, daunted
by the logistics of getting there
but determined to live actively
as long as I can.
About the Author: Patricia Wellingham-Jones
Patricia Wellingham-Jones is a widely published former psychology researcher and writer/editor. She has a special interest in healing writing, with poems recently in The Widow’s Handbook (Kent State University Press). Chapbooks include Don’t Turn Away: poems about breast cancer, End-Cycle: poems about caregiving, Apple Blossoms at Eye Level, Voices on the Land and Hormone Stew.