Donna S. Lafollette’s first college year, she attended Purdue University as a Journalism major. She then transferred to Bulter University; but, Butler didn’t have a journalism school, so she switched to Education. She kept a lifelong passion for writing, but even a stronger passion for teaching writing. She taught Middle School Language Arts for over 30 years. Several of her students were honored as Promising Young Writers in Indiana. She was a member of the Lousiville chapter of Women Who Write, where she continued to mentor writers. A lot of her writings she would not share, and we could only read posthumously. Over the years, she did publish a few. She actually was an amazing writer, and I want to share her work in an effort to honor her life.
I was cleaning out and organizing some very old computer files. I was in a file that backup of an old Mac PowerBook G4/400 (Titanium). It was one of the first Titaniums. Man! I liked that laptop, I stopped using it sometime around 2006. The file was so obscure that I found it nested in a backup file of an old Dell laptop that I also no longer use. You can see the file path in the photo above. But, there was a lone Word doc in a lone file titled “Mom’s writings.” My mother, Donna LaFollette, died May 11, 2018. My mom wrote. Here is a link to her obituary.
I open and read the brief poem. I decided to share it after a 45-minute cry. The poem’s theme of grief just made the experience that much more. I would like to share I’d like to share it with you. I have no date. It might be one that has been published. I don’t know. She wrote a lot. One thing, I would like to do is do a memorial or posthumous blog made up of mom’s writings. It would be tough to do.
Whirled upward swirling my mind in fall colors
And memories of lost loves.
The yellow and orange hues filled me with emptiness.
Musty smells brought to mind those gone.
The crisp air warned of the cold deadness ahead
When all love fades into icy whiteness and painful loss.
Finding the old poem of my mother’s last week, got me wanting to share some more of her writings. The following was initially published in Calliope; 12th Annual Anthology of Women Who Write, Volume XII, 2006, pages 93 to 95.
The cool November wind burst through the Kroger’s door and startled me from my daydream. It had been an extremely slow day; only two customers had checked out their groceries through my lane. Before I looked at the new customer, I glanced down at my watch. When I did, I knew immediately who shuffled through the door. I smiled at my own wisdom.
She had shopped with us daily at the same time for the last three weeks, always pulling the two-wheeled silver cart behind her as she crept from the trailer park behind the store. I knew little about her except that she liked Campbell’s soups and had at least one cat. She frequently purchased cans of Fancy Feast and tuna-flavored Pounce. “Today,” I thought to myself, “I’m going to ask her what her name is.”
Soon I heard her scuff up aisle one and slowly move toward the canned goods section. I watched her as she reached for a small jar of Welch’s grape jelly. Her frail, gnarled hand shook under the pressure of the glass, and I noticed the glimmer of a wide gold band on her left ring finger. Her hands looked like wadded pink
Kleenex. Blue lines and brown spots mixed with the maroon scrapes on her tissue paper skin. Pink scalp showed through the thinning silver hair that poked from under the once white Chiffon scarf she had tied under her sagging chin.
After placing the jelly into her cart, she tugged at the power blue cardigan, her only protection against the crisp fall air. Beneath the cardigan was a pink and white striped blouse that hung out over the elastic waist of the double knit beige slacks. Gray felt house slippers with white anklets covered her tiny feet. She had snipped the slippers to allow the bulge of her bunions freedom from the binding cloth.
Eventually, she came stopped-shouldered to my checkout. “Hi, I’m Ethel. It’s starting to cool off; isn’t it?” I yakked.
She looked up at me. Her thin lips curved into a straight line beneath rouged colored cheeks, and she softly said, “Hello, Miss Ethel. I’m always cold, now-a-days.”
“What do I call you?”
“Do you have a cat, Goldie?” I asked as I placed tuna flavored Pounce into a brown paper bag.
“Yes … Charlie. He’s a 10-year-old, yellow tiger cat. He’s so fat I can’t lift him anymore. Charlie was my late husband’s foot warmer; that old cat always slept curled up against Henry’s feet,” she tittered.
For several months, Goldie came to the store, and we chatted. She even encouraged me to give Bobby, my husband, a second chance after I caught him having a beer with a girl from the Pilsbury plant. Goldie had been so right!
Then one day she didn’t come in. I consoled myself aloud, “Oh, It’s too cold. She’ll be in tomorrow when it’s supposed to warm up.” But she didn’t come in the next day or the next. When I finally accepted the fact that she was gone, I had myself a cry.
Wiping a tear away, I stared outside at the dark clouds. Streams of golden light broke through them. Through the window, I noticed an old, dirty yellow cat curled up in those few rays of sunlight.
At the end of my shift, I pulled on my red windbreaker and grabbed a can of Fancy Feast. I dashed out the door and called, “Charlie, Charlie.” The yellow cat meowed and laced himself in and around my ankles. I scooped him up and went home.
Wow, yesterday, I received the most traffic to this blog ever.
All I did was to post a link on Facebook to a piece of Mom’s writing.
Thank you all for honoring my mother. She had many strong friends who loved her.
I started this blog primarily to improve my feeble web hosting skills before striking-out with projects that require mush polish like a professional Résumé page, a business page, and a monetized page for Elias. Elias really has a desire to earn money as a social media maven and internet celebrity. However, he doesn’t have any web hosting skills. I want to be a supportive father and I dream about working a family business with my sons. Plus an income from electronic media would be a most welcomed thing. I had tried my hand a bit in the past with a web page for an old business of mine. I could only stumble through that with huge guidance from a long time friend and former watermelon farmer turned marketing media guru Brian Wringer.
In response to the folks viewing these posts, I added a Series of Five Poems, written by Mom, first published in Calliope –12th Annual Anthology of Women Who Write, Volume XII, 2006. Now, this may be brazen pandering to my audience, but it’s nice to get real visitors that read something for a change. Plus (and I know this is cheating), it’s far easier to post content already written by someone else than to write original content myself. Yet, it is a start to expanding this site, and, most importantly, it honors my mother.
The fluttering leaves of the diary, Yellowed and gray, Opened for me a window On Grandma’s life When white hair was earthy brown With shimmering waves. Her blue dress flowed long Over Pinched waist and full hips. In April long ago, this young girl Lifted her soft skirts To dash out to a shy, brown-suited man Waiting in a squeaky, bouncy buggy Dappled horses snorted at restrained love, Oh, not so long ago.