On My Mother’s Death

On My Mother’s Death

                                                         By Michael McAlinden

The phone call –

‘Come quick – it’s mum’.

I rush down the motorway

Thoughts racing through my head.

In my heart of hearts

I know she is dead.

I arrive –

People outside the house

Keeping safe space

Looks of sympathy

A familiar face.

‘Is she gone?’

‘Yes mate’ –

She couldn’t hang on

For me.

Everyone in the room

With her priest.

Prayers and tears

An ecstasy of grief.

‘Sorry for your loss’

‘Life pronounced extinct

At 21.30,

The paperwork inked.

That’s it she ‘s gone

Time to get my game face on.

No time for tears

I can’t be withdrawn

From this.

‘Call the undertaker’

It has to be Jack.

He buried dad

Let’s get him back.

North Street man

Just like mum.

Image of his father

Jack the son.

Eventually quiet

The family gather.

‘Let’s write her tribute’

We all remember.

A flood of memories

Is there anything we’ve missed?

I’ll write it up,

I’ll give it a fist.

Eventually to bed

But there’s no real sleep.

Mind troubled

Processing a heap

Of memories and thoughts.

Morning comes

A welcome relief

For a disturbed mind

Processing grief.

And so to my keyboard

I begin to write.

Word after word

I have to fight

The waves of tears.

Trying to maintain control.

Honour her memory.

Life before she got old.

A life well lived,

It has to be told.

A wealth of experiences,

She had a life!

Resilient, determined, a devoted wife

And mother.

She was a matriarch

Ruled her roost.

Made her mark on us all,

Gave us a boost

For life.

Then to the house

Cups of tea by the dozen.

Words of sympathy

Sit by the coffin.

May’s mates arrive

Such irreverent craic!

Is that a smile on her face?

She’d love to be back

With them.

Wave after wave

Of tears uncontrolled.

Interspersed with chat

Grief on hold.

More tea –

‘Ach, sure you might as well’

A mountain of buns

Stomach starting to swell.

The third day.

Time to say goodbye.

The family gathers.

Not a dry eye

In our house.

The service over

Off to the grave.

We lower her down

Trying to be brave.

What’s the point of that?

We need to be real.

Need to process our grief

We’ve got to deal

With that.

But that’s for others

Not for me.

I’ll bottle it up,

Go it alone.

Try to support the others

But suppress my own


They always say

The pain will subside.

But 35 years ago

That’s when dad died.

That pain is still here

That pain is still real

Still processing that

So how do I deal

With this?


Philomena McAlinden

8 December 1932 – 26 April 2021