Blog Post # 30: Remembering My First Birthday Without My Mom

A Birthday Poem

Do you enjoy birthdays? One of my favorite parts is logging onto Facebook to find so many Happy Birthday Wishes. Whether from posts, replies to birthday posts, or private messages,  it’s a great way to enjoy my day!

Every year I am also reminded of my birthday in 2003.  It was a tough one; we had just lost our Mom, Miriam Elizabeth Hall Gateley, a couple of weeks earlier.  To help me get through this sad time, my sister Deborah wrote an incredible Birthday Poem for me.  So for today’s post, I’m sharing this wonderful poem with you.  

I am also sharing this picture of us from many years ago. That’s me on the left. My sister Deborah is next (she wrote the poem).  Then there is my Grandma Hall — my Mom’s mom (the LPN in the poem). And on the far right is my Mom.

2003 Birthday Poem For Me From Sister Deborah Gateley

We hadn’t planned this special togetherness,

Extending beyond last year.

Another birthday shared with sisters,

This time though, our hearts heavy with loss,

Lightened only by memories,

And the faith in God she always taught us.

This will forever be a birthday to remember.

You came first, her treasured one,

A pregnancy filled with problems, fear, and pain,

Slicing into her very being, fearing her baby would slip away,

Tiny daughter cradled by Mother’s love and body,

Was gently lifted up and held,

While Dr. Thomas restored life and hope,

Replaced the baby, little you, encased safely in her womb.

Her body healed, you clung to life,

Nestled within your Mother,

Each day brought added hope her Donna would survive,

Then suddenly it was time for you to leave,

Your Mother home that gave you life.

Wrenching pain swelling through her body,

Her labor had begun, and she still had a dangerously long fight.

Her own Mother, an LPN, came to be with her,

Bringing the solidity only a mother can.

Days of labor with her body overworked,

Almost give out, pushing with trembling muscles and strong heart,

You, little daughter, her first born,

Came slowly gliding into her world,

With your tiny cry metamorphosing her life.

I, our Mother’s second child, caress my memories,

Of all I see in her, of all she taught and did for us.

Brownies, girl scouts, home made Halloween costumes,

Pretty party dresses, protection from dreams,

Homeroom mother, making our meals,

Our faces lighted softly knowing she was there waiting to bring us home from school.

In our infancy we believed she had no other life but us.

On the farm with 3 more children after you and me,

We learned of chores, kittens, gardening, canning,

And raising animals for more than pets, but for what they give us.

This was life in its rawest form, and she gracefully brought it balance.

While taking time to always teach,

4H groups, sewing, cooking, and entering fairs,

We learned how to win and learned how to lose.

The Florida years bring a salty, breezy taste,

Surf fishing with sand in our toes,

Mother’s hair blowing, permanent smile on her face.

While eating her Indian River citrus; oranges, grapefruits, kumquats, tangerines,

and don’t forget her beloved key lime pie.

Throw in a separate chapter for Disney World,

For our Mother, the ever curious and childlike.

Other children than you brought her to Grandmotherhood,

She readily accepted this role,

Brought to it the love she had shown all her children,

With extra sparkle thrown in.

But her life still incomplete, for where was Donna’s child?

Mother longed for the one that still needed to come,

While far away baby Alexandru was waiting.

Is it true the final joys in life are best? I think it must be so.

For Grandma B immersed herself in loving this little one,

In learning of Xandru and a new language,

Making him treats and clothes and toys,

Sending him mail with treasures.

Xandru brought new sparkle to her eyes,

Donna presented her this treasured blessing.

As Xandru grew we all learned,

Of this little spiritual giant.

And one more time our Mother, expanded her heart to accept

A grandchild as unique as the rest.

She always felt God brought them together, Donna and Xandru and Chris,

And Patrick and Kevin, their family complete,

From her firstborn, came another first – a grandson who is deaf.

What a special bond we all witnessed,

Between Grandma B and her Xandru.

She didn’t need ears to hear him, for like Xandru,

She listened with her heart, and she spoke with her hands.

There was no doubt of their shared love, when he talked of Grandma B,

He would become so excited he’d tremble,

His face alight, eyes beaming, and “Xandru happy noises” making.

Our Mother, taken from us too suddenly,

Has left us stunned and in grief.

Though as she taught us life, she also taught us how to die.

And left behind her Donna to lead the way again,

To teach us how to celebrate our own lives,

Finding happiness in celebrating her gift of life to us,

Our birthdays can still be complete.

Mother is with you today I’m sure, and I’ll bet our Father is with her,

Trying to break through the sorrow,

Letting you know that you are still bringing them joy,

They are so proud of you and all you have done!

To make your day special I’ll give you a hug straight from heaven,

Close your eyes, you’ll feel her arms around you,

Because it’s true, “I’m just like my Mother!”

Love and Happy Birthday from

Your Sister Debbie

LESSON LEARNED:  Never take loved ones for granted. They can leave for heaven in an instant.

LESSON LEARNED:  During times of sadness, a sister can bring a lifelong comfort.

LESSON LEARNED:  The best presents are from the heart, not the store.

LESSON LEARNED:  Moms are precious; Grandmothers are treasures.

Games and YouTube Videos

Here are the links to my signing and cueing YouTube “Word Of The Day” channels. I post a new word every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Check it out and I would love to know what you think of them!

YouTube ASL Word Of The Day

YouTube Cued Speech Word Of The Day

Also, Check out my Adventure Games in the App Stores

Please join me for my new blog posts each Friday.  Have fun with your ASL and/or Cued Speech Adventures!

Published by Donna Gateley

Developer of SignCueQuest and CueQuest

3 thoughts on “Blog Post # 30: Remembering My First Birthday Without My Mom

  1. Thank you for the beautiful story poem about your mother, Donna. It brought back good memories of my own mom. We miss her, and appreciate her more every time we think about her.❤️


  2. Thank you for the beautiful story poem about your mother, Donna. It brought back good memories of my own mom. We miss her, and appreciate her more every time we think about her.❤️


  3. Happy Birthday, Donna. That poem made me cry. Debbie has Grandma Hall’s poetic talent. What sweet memories. I’m so glad you kids are close in heart. One story that Miriam told me about life on the farm was that one thing she and L.D. completely agreed about and was strict about was that if any of you kids had a fight with any other brother or sister that you were not allowed to have any of your other friends over to play until you made up with your brother or sister first. I always thought that was such a sweet and wonderful rule. And I’m sure that is the reason that you are so close now.


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