Barbie Perkins-Cooper, Author

Living Life in the Country As A Writer, Photographer

Monday, April 17, 1922 – the birth date of my mother. Today is her 93rd birthday, only she is no longer alive. She died on September 11, 2002 – under questionable circumstances. On the date she died, I was ill with acute bronchial asthma. Prednisone made me a zombie. My cognitive skills were disorganized. I did not hear of her death until the late afternoon of September 12 when my sister’s son phoned telling me ‘granny is gone.’ When I inquired about the details of her passing he said, “She died on September 11. Do you think they’ll do an autopsy?”

When he asked that inquiring question, I failed to comprehend WHAT he was saying; nevertheless, in the middle of the night, due to the side effects of Prednisone, those words replayed in my mind. Why would he be concerned about an autopsy? Just HOW did my mother die?  My mother resided in a nursing home, unable to move the left side of her body due to a stroke. On Mother’s Day 2002, I visited her at the nursing home, giving her a pair of cultured pearl earrings. When I put them in her ears, she touched her right ear. I haven’t seen that gentle side of my mother since I married.

Mother and I shared a bitter history as mother and daughter. Whenever I needed her love and acceptance, she lashed out at me with a bitter, poisonous tongue. If I made her angry, she grabbed my ponytail, tugging at it until my head ached. If I questioned why she was so mean to me, her hand slapped my face, leaving bruises.

After marriage, I broke away from my mother, deciding it was better for me and my husband to make a life without her destructive ways. Every year on her birthday, I sent a card. Later in life, when she was frail, I visited her, hoping when I arrived she would embrace me. Never did I feel the warmth of a mother’s embrace.

I was curious as to why my mother was so bitter. Did life throw her lemons? Why was she so angry? Was she bi-polar? Never did I find answers to so many questions. I prayed she would release the anger and find happiness. Regardless of our volatile history, she was my mother. I loved her.

Now, that she is gone, I still think of her, wishing our paths were different. Today is a day of remembrance for her. Even though we were estranged, I still crave a mother’s love. Happy Birthday to my Mom with my love. Years before her death, I wrote a poem about our relationship, choosing to let it rest inside my computer.

To Wish You a Happy Birthday


This poem is written especially for you,

In hopes, someday our dreams will come true.

When I was a child, you laughed at me. In hopes I would see,

How foolish life’s dreams can be.

Now, that I am grown, and you and I are so far apart,

My wish for you is that one day you will start—

To see the beauty in life,

Along with the belief in dreams.

Perhaps then, you will understand

Life’s unspoken dreams.

I wish you happiness on your birthday,

Even though I am miles away.

My dream for you is a hope and belief,

That one day, you will believe.

Happy Birthday Mom. Even though we were never close,

I wish you special thoughts, for joys and happiness we lost.

On your special birthday. I think of you often and love you unconditionally.

Barbie Perkins-Cooper



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