Mom's Poetry
by Kathleen Dunleavy

"Pop is still always with us, only in a different way
He watches us and prays for our welfare every day"

The author began by composing and sharing heartfelt poems of gratitude and faith in God with her extended family each year at Thanksgiving. Over time, poems were added which celebrated the lives of family members who had passed on and which also explored other subjects such as childbirth, friendship, forgiveness, and even one written in the aftermath of 9/11. A retired nurse with New York-Presbyterian Hospital for more than 40 years, Dunleavy assembled her growing collection of “prayer-poems” in order to memorialize them in a tangible collection for her children and many grandchildren. Intriguing artwork by Dr. Frank Stringfellow—recipient of the Maryland Governor’s Award for Leadership—accompanies the text.

In particular, the Thanksgiving poems leave the reader feeling as though one comes to know the poet’s extended family intimately. This collection celebrates, over the span of nearly 20 years, new births, first words, new marriages, career changes, and other significant life events. Sharing stories of a close-knit family as they meet year after year at the Thanksgiving dinner table, the poems applaud individual achievements by family members, including those of a dozen grandchildren. A strong sense of devotion to God is also quite apparent in the poems. Some pieces are solemn, and some are reflective. Others are quite joyful and celebratory, but all present a nice sprinkling of wit and humor throughout. Perhaps most striking (and touching) is that almost every poem recognizes that Dunleavey’s husband—the family’s beloved “Pop” who passed away many years prior—is still very much near at the family gatherings, guiding with his love and affection. When reading the poems, one can almost feel his presence and smiling approval.

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