Daily Archives: August 14, 2011

Mrs. Russell

My mother was a war bride of WWII, having left her native Australia to enter this brave world of America. A mother of seven, her days were quickly filled with many things. Most of our WWII veterans are dead or dying now, and younger people can’t imagine some of the things we grew up with in the 1950’s and 60’s. It was a tumultuous time. Atomic bombs, Korea and Viet Nam. Those things will never go away. Man will always hate. Today we have Afghanistan and Iraq, But it is all tragic. The following poem is about another war bride, Mrs. Edna Russell, who befriended me in 1963 at my tender age of three. She wasn’t as lucky as my mother, in that her husband came back from the war in a box and a flag before they were able to have children. She was a neighbor who loved her lost husband deeply. My childhood would have been nothing without her. She is one of the most wonderful women who have ever touched my life.

I love her.

Mrs. Russell
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A moment frozen, an aged heart,
a timeless soul falling into no boundary.
Her blue hair sparkled under her straw hat
as she poked around the rhubarb patch.
Dwarfed by an ocean of life’s wonders,
her smile roundly spilled over
the edges of this world,
its confines unable to contain
the glory of her beauty.
And I saw her smile shimmering.

A young heart, full and alive,
a quick passion, love thrived
but war tore them apart.
A hasty marriage.  A call of duty.
His mangled body fallen afar.
And so she collected the years, alone.
Poking the soil around the rhubarb.
Canning her crabapple jelly.
Visiting his grave on Thursdays.

But every day at around two or three,
she’d grab my small hand and head for tea.
Through crumpet crumbs and crumbling tears,
We spared the pain and crossed the years,
as though Lieutenant Russell hadn’t gone away.
And just for a little while
I would be her little child.
She told me stories and taught me things,
and her motherly love would tenderly bring
a smile that blessed her way.

And on each day at four or five,
we’d cross the street, her voice alive,
she’d thank my mum for hours spent
kiss my cheek, away we went.
I’m certain that in those ensuing years
to look beyond her heart’s veneers
you’d find this thought in time:
that the hours we spent belonged to her,
a lost mother’s love so dear and pure.
But really, when examined well
I let her think but always tell
her smile made those hours mine.

And mine.  And mine.

© 2011 John Richter