Tomatoes – a rambling tribute to Mother

Helen Della Mae Calhoun Ferris Howe – Mother
I love the smells in a tomato field.

We picked them for Aunt Annie

every  summer in New Brunswick.

I wanted a perfume

that smelled like the vines and leaves.

Brandie made turkey, bacon and tomato 

sandwiches for breakfast

When we had gathered together

when you went Home. (April 11, 2008)

You  made the best sliced tomato platter

when we were growing up.

When I think of Home…

I think that Heaven 

must be a giant field of tomatoes.

On CKUA, during the fun raiser

“Home grown tomatoes” was a featured song.

I just had a tomato for my bed-time snack.

Tomatoes grow from the tiniest seed.

I had a container garden with tomatoes growing in them.

Perhaps, this year, on Mother’s Day I will honor you with a great

tomato sandwich.

It could become more famous

than Charlie Brown’s great pumpkin.

I shared your green tomato chow-chow recipe with many folks…

The last year I had my own garden.

 I loved the smell of Grandmother’s kitchen

when she made her

large batches of pickles,  homemade bread. 

She brought out the last of the jars of green tomato

Chow chow on your birthday every August. 

It told us you would soon

be taking us home for another year.

Back to school, 

Sharon’s birthday and the long Ontario winters.

There were tomatoes as a special treat during fall harvest.

Huge bushel baskets of them.

Tomatoes are wonderful, sweet

and good for the heart.

So were you Mother.

So were you.

Here is a bushel basket of gratitude.

Thanks for all the things you taught.

Thanks for your love,


and especially your smile.

The train whistles sing your name.

Many lives were touched by your love.

Enjoy your new Home with a view of Tomatoes.

Tomatoes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)




Mother loved the autumn

Photo of Helen Della Mae Calhoun Ferris Howe Thanksgiving 2007 with MaryHelen

Photo by Thomas Quantz


Mother loved the Autumn

When we would hurry back to school.

The neighbours heard us tell her

Each and every day

Alone, collectively and often in a bunch

I love you Mommy

as we went back to school after lunch.

Mother loved the Autumn

she loved the Springtime too

Cleaning out the mothballs

Trying to find who could fit what.

She sewed.

She cleaned,

She loved.

She screamed.

Imagine the trials she had

Raising five children alone.

She worked and she worried

Until one day…

She stopped her fussing

She started to pray.

Last Thanksgiving when I visited her

She prayed that her children

Would all love the Lord.

She prayed we would all get together

Of our own accord.

Then she said something I regret to this day

“I will get my children back together

Even if I have to die doing it.”

Well , Mother we gathered on that fateful day.

When you went to your Lord and Saviour

We did kneel and pray.

We sang your favorite hymns.

We cried our oceans of tears.

We still sing out singly

After eating our lunch:

“I love you Mommy “



Or in a bunch.

Mother loved the autumn.

She planted that love in me.

I am happy for you Mother

I am so glad you are free.

I wonder precious Mother

Do you know what a gift

It was to remember

Each time you gave my heart a lift.

You loved laughter, music,

art and romance.

You taught my Soul

How to do its own dance.

To be my own woman.

To follow my path.

But, more than that Mother

You taught me how to love and to pray.

To be grateful for the joys of today.

I love you dear Mother,

This you know its true.

I will have my life Mother

Be a honour to you.

Mother’s Birthday Card (Departed Parent)

A red rose is often used as a symbol of social...
A red rose is often used as a symbol of social democracy, mostly adopted in the period after World War II. Tament Library: About Our Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Good Morning, Mama.
A birthday in heaven, oh my!
Do you have moonbeams
fluffy clouds to entertain
you in your quiet time?
Do you know when surrounded there
with the Love of the Master
how much love you gave
in your latest lifetime here?
Do you have any idea how I
can make it through today?
I must.
I trust.
I never thought one person could create such a void.
But, then again, I never could be close enough to tend
To your needs in the closing years.
However, our Thanksgiving last year was very special.
I embrace those moments.

I look forward to embracing you
Very soon
I am sad.
I am learning to grieve.
I know you are finally safe from the storm….
However, knowing you, you are probably

planning your next adventure here.
I want you to enjoy yourself
now in that sacred place.
May the love of my childhood

And your caring loving ways
sustain my siblings and me

While we walk through the tears.
Don’t get me wrong now.
I want you to know
I see your beauty whereever I go.
Your joy and your laughter
I hear in the rain.
But, honestly, Mother

I want to see you again.

Did you get your single rose today?


The Crone and the crow Revision July 2008

English: House Crow മലയാളം: പേനക്കാക്ക
Image via Wikipedia

In memories eyes
She wondered why the crow had never taken
Her on the trip she so dearly needed.
The answer now was clear.
“You cannot enjoy the heavenly Throne
If you don’t find heaven here.”
The living in the moment
Is not a great surprise
Just learn to see the Master
In everything before your eyes.”
The following was written in grief from losing Mother.
I wanted to be with her.
Now I know she wants me to be here.
“Flying on my own.”

She watched the crow flying free.

He watched her sitting letting life be.

The crow was busying building a nest

It was, oh, so very tired.

The crow had no time to rest.

The crone was sitting in the parlour

Singing a song to the crow.

She watched its busy movements.

She watched it come and go.

It took the twigs.

It took the string.

It took all it could to survive.

“Oh dear crow

Who flies so high

How you must enjoy your life

You have your hearts desire.

I am weak and old and frail.

I sit here alone by the fire.

How I long to fly beyond the veil.

I have had my loves.

I have had my life.

The memories I have known.

But just for now,

I would like to crawl up on your back

And fly to heaven’s throne.

Dear crow, I would give you a house

To raise your family.

Just do this one little thing for me.

Take me on your shoulders.

Take me to the Master’s feet.

I want my Soul to fly free.”

The crow had no time to hear the song.

The woman cried alone.

When the nest was built

There were the babies to feed.

The crow was exhausted from morning till night.

It never heard  the lonely crone.

It never knew it’s plight.

Towards the end of summer

The crone was working in her yard

She shook her fist towards the empty nest.

“Oh dear crow

Who flies so high

How you must enjoy your life

You have your hearts desire.

I am weak and old and frail.

Cape Crow
Image via Wikipedia

I sit here alone by the fire.

How I long to fly beyond the veil.

I have had my loves.

I have had my life.

The memories I have known.

But just for now,

I would like to crawl up on your back

And fly to heaven’s throne.

Dear crow, I would give you a house

To raise your family.

Just do this one little thing for me.

Take me on your shoulders.

Take me to the Master’s feet.

I want my Soul to fly free.”

The crow was no longer there to hear the song.


Motherhood starts in the raindrop.

Motherhood starts in the earth.

Motherhood starts in the laughter.

Motherhood starts knowing your worth.

Motherhood starts as belonging to the women

of the tribe.

Motherhood is the joy of the sunset.

Motherhood is being glad you’re alive.

Motherhood is in the watching

a garden grow and thrive.

Motherhood is not a season.

Nor a certain time of year.

Motherhood is the gentleness

the compassion of a heart

full of good cheer.

Motherhood is the contented smile

that comes across your face

when the work is all done.

When the children are fed, tucked into bed

And its your turn for a cup of tea

by the fireplace.

Motherhood is the light in the window

for the traveler who journeys far.

Motherhood is the heartache

as your sons and daughters

go to war.

Motherhood is the quiet whisper

Upon the evening breeze.

Knowing that you have done your best

Releasing the rest as their children gather

‘Round your knees.

Motherhood is the knowingness

that comes only in the song

Of joy you offer

While making bread.

The quiet peaceful loving

which goes into every step.

Motherhood is that long lonely vigil.

Knowing full well why the Master wept.

Motherhood is a journey.

Seemingly up hill all the way.

Motherhood is service in the rain drop.

Motherhood is giving every day.

Motherhood is that quiet moment

After you have given the whole house a scrub.

Before the children, the cats and the dog

Decide to bring the whole sandbox in

To create a huge ‘hub-bub’.

Motherhood is the guilty moment

When chocolate is your sin.

Motherhood is so wondrous.

Motherhood is a giving thing.

Motherhood a calling

Given to women by God.

Motherhood just is.

Motherhood was written in the stars.

(No wonder it is

an occasion for cigars.)

The breeze is full of your Love

The breeze is full of your Love.

I am hurrying and scurryng

Not allowing my self time to feel.

The preparing of the garden,

The raking of the lawn

Picking out the new blooms this year….

Makes your passing less real.

It tears at me that you are gone.

I focus my attention

On the task in front of me

I ask for love to cool my brow

I miss you so much in the garden.

I miss you so much now.

I miss you desperately.

I dry my tears

Get back to work

I hear the distant train.

“I love you my dear daughter

Here is a kiss upon the breeze.

Know that the garden is lovely

Give the other children a squeeze.

Tell them that I am healing here

I am sitting in the sun

I am basking in the Sunlight of the Spirit

I have my tea and sing my song.

I am so blessed

To have stood the test

It really is such fun

To actualize Soul’s desire

Reflected in God’s Holy Fire.”

I shake my head

For I heard the words

Spoken clearly in my heart.

I place the rake, hoe and the gloves

Give my back a stretch…..

In that moment

I receive

Your Love upon the breeze.

Thanks Mom

You always knew what I needed.

Thanks for the breeze.

Thanks for teaching me

God’s love was always

Waiting in the garden.

As I child,

It drove me wild

When you would send me out to weed.

I never knew at the time

That I was also taking out the weeds

Out of the garden of my heart.

I stand now my arms outstretched

Surrendered to the song of the Wind….

“Your Mother is always with you when you

Remember the lessons she taught.”

I walk in peace

Now less distraught

Thankful for the hug in the Wind.

A Mother Died To-Day Chester (Sonny) Anderson Ferris

Healing Roses

But no newspaper headline will say

No copy will read

Of her Life full of Deeds

Of her five children that lived

Of her son that did not

But as she believed

Today she will see that little tot!

Each child that lived reflects a portion of this woman.

Each one knew and remembers

Isolated, private and individual


Some sad—some happy–some divine.

Mine are mine. I speak from them.

A Mother died to-day.

Funerals are for the living.

This one to tell of a Mother’s giving.

Funerals in our clan are not an opportunity

To wash another’s hands

But to speak true and honest

About a mother we lay to rest.

About a woman who knit our mittens

Mittens with a string from one to another

So as not to confuse mine with my brother’s.

About oatmeal for breakfast,

And how it would last.

What was good for me?

And what I should let pass.

A Mother died today.

The Gardens she loved,

The woods and vales, and streams

Of New Brunswick she grew up in

The cities of Ontario she was introduced to.

The plains and the prairies of Alberta

That moved her to write and contribute to her community

When her nest was empty.

Her pain and agony over the men she married.

Her pain and agony over the men she didn’t marry.

The joy and happiness with the men she married.

The joy and happiness with the men she did not marry.

A Mother died today.

In my youth as a boy

I thought her cruel

But in looking back, as a man,

She was only trying to survive

Self-preservation, basic of all instincts.

She was pressured and badgered

By society and by her choice of partners.

To please and survive,

She sacrificed.

All that was available to her.

A Mother died today.

My Mother embraced a Christian belief

That each of us, before time, as spirits, walked to and fro

In the corridors (of) heaven

In the presence of God.

Then, we were born into mortal life.

Then when we die and return to the presence

To the presence of God.

A Mother died today.

What to say when your Mother dies?

Let me relate from a letter of 1991

“Dear Mother, rest easy in your twilight years

All is forgiven and forgotten.”

That was seventeen years ago.

Her faculties were all in tact.

She knew I understood the reason behind

Her choices and sacrifices.

A Mother died today.

Life is given free to all

To choose our own path

Until our call

The road we chose

To win or lose.

The body, mind, and Soul

Reflect those avenues that show us whole.

Length of days.

Soundness of mind.

Gentleness of voice and kind.

As Helen endured she gathered this pay.

A Mother died today.

No newspaper will read

Her giving, her caring, her tending to need

Not Perfect.

Not a Saint.

Not an angel without taint.

But a warrior, a survivor

A formidable foe

When cornered or threatened

Into battle she’d go.

For the values she held dear

In that direction she would steer.

A Mother died today.

Do we her children count her life

By the beds she made? the diapers? the miles?

The meals? or do we recall the items she missed

And recount her fall?

Each of us select what we think and say.

A Mother died today.

Since no newspaper will herald her passing

We her children now reflect what values are lasting.

The good

The sad

The righteous

The bad

What about love?

To me I define

“When you care more about the well-being of another

Than you do about yourself.”

How many of us use this term of love

Not as intended by God up above

Each of us has our memories and joy.

Mine as a man.

Some still as a boy.

A tribute to a woman whose quiver is full

And upon inspection her road was mostly an up hill pull.

A mother died today.

It is time for her to rest.

To remember only her best.

Her faults no benefit to any.

Her good deeds, her services were many

Each of us has individual snap shots in time.

These I have chosen, they are mine.

My Mother died today.

-Guest poet

Chester Anderson (Sonny) Ferris

for his Mother

Helen Della Mae Calhoun Ferris Howe

Born August 25, 1919

Passed Away April 11, 2008