Baby's 90th Birthday

I hardly know where to begin with an ode
            To the woman who once gave me birth;
For how can mere words express all that she's owed
            For her nine decades here on this earth?
So many, the things that a person could tell of her,
            To honor this one so esteemed:
For instance, the myriad folk who think well of her,
            And what SHE'S done while others just dreamed.

I really should tell of her wonderful essence,
            Every minute of bliss and success
From her early-on birth to her lack of senescence—
            And do so with eloquentness.
With angels she walked since the day she arrived
            As the baby, the youngest of four;
Cuz otherwise how'd she have ever survived
            To the ripe age of ten and fourscore?

But I don't want to tell all the things I'm supposed to;
            It's more fun to tell things I ain't,
Like the time she and Howie (her bro she was close to)
            Had fun with a bucket of paint;
Big sister and brother got in real big trouble
            Cuz they had their nose in a book,
And they hadn't a spyglass as big as the Hubble,
            So they gave not their sister one look.

For you see, Little Ellen—the cute baby sister—
            Was really a mischievous imp;
Her siblings all figured that none would have missed her
            If ever they'd misplaced the shrimp.
Cuz when no more than nine and just doing her thing
            (Namely, driving her big sister wild),
Adair's voice throughout all the rafters would ring,
            "Mother, can't you DO something with that child?!"

Though she tattled on Howie, the truth is that truly
            'Twas that HE kept his mouth shut that saved her.
Cuz not only at home was my mother unruly;
            All Hornell came to know her behavior.
Even Mrs. McCall, the dear minister's Frau,
            Had a way to tell Ellen to scat:
Whenever she said, "I have plans for Nancy now,"
            She MEANT, "Go away, little brat."

When she was thirteen, though quite unnecessary,
            She just HAD to have glasses, she said.
Her prescription, of course, was not strong—no, not very;
            But it made her feel good in the head.
But she soon learned that there was an "opposite sex",
            And furthermore heard of this apothegm:
"Boys don't make passes at girls who wear specs"…
            The glasses?  She decided, "To crap with them."

Now, I can't tell you how many dozens of times
            She got kicked out for talking in class,
Or any additional schoolyard crimes
            That made it much harder to pass—
That is, to pass love notes to this boy or that,
            The one on the left or the right—
It made little difference where all of 'em sat,
            Cuz that's how she learned how to write!

Well, at last she was wed—set her mother to humming,
            Though soon she was changing her song:
Poor Ellen was up in the sticks—with no plumbing!—
            And seemed to think nothing was wrong!
She'd chosen her fate and felt not put-upon,
            But took life the way she was handed it;
She was hardly aware there was no indoor john—
            Till her kids came along and demanded it!

And after ten years that she'd been matronizing,
            She still was the rankest beginner:
She was known to have found it a wee bit surprising
            That the hour had passed to fix dinner!
But she worked to exhaustion with no thought of leisure
            And once someone—I don't know who'd dare—
Took a picture of Mother (much to her displeasure)
            Soundly snoring in a dining room chair!

Her children had never a problem to get her
            To read classics—like Winnie-the-Pooh;
No one could do Eeyore's gloomy voice better
            Than Mom—oh, and don't forget Roo!
But many's the time we were ready for bed
            And the story would so mesmerize
That Mom would stop reading and start nodding her head..
            So we'd just prop open her eyes!

There must be more stories an offspring might flaunt
            Her colorful life to illumine…
Okay, I admit it—I really just want
            To remind us she WAS only human.
I could, I suppose, describe such goings-on
            As the smell of the tail of a cat,
That had sat on a burner that Mom had left on—
            But no, I just won't mention that!

Or the time her horse Valiant wouldn't stay still,
            And led her—didn't even forewarn her—
With her shouting, "WHOA!!!" all the way down the hill
            And into the garage's near corner.
But there's nothing she did, whether naughty or wrong,
            Embarrassing, foolish, or bad,
That could ever disprove what we've known all along:
            She's the BEST Mom we kids ever had!