I found one of mom’s 5×7 Mead Five-Star college-ruled notebooks. I’m sure she had dozens of them; she loved little notebooks and somehow that passion trickled down to me. This particular one is riddled with usernames and passwords and email addresses, so I assume she kept it near her computer. I try every now and then to log in as her to see if I can learn anything new, but what do you expect to learn about someone by accessing an online Wheel of Fortune account? (And it’s sort of funny, too, that many of the sites no longer even exist.)

Tucked into the front pocket of the notebook, I found a yellowing piece of paper folded in quarters. It’s a poem. Based on the style of her handwriting, which I know as intimately as the back of my own hand, she must have written it in grade school. She signed it, of course, with her maiden name, Kathleen Albanese.

It’s impossible for me to date it exactly, so I won’t even try. Here it is:

Speak a foolish word into the wind
  and multitudes will hear its sound
  as it passes by
       And they will follow its dictum,
          believe its message
          until each of the multitude has also
          uttered a foolish word into the wind.
  So all of these words together will travel
       and each will beget a thousand sons
       until the wind roars as
        thunder roars

Speak a word of wisdom into the wind
  and one man will hear its sound
  as it passes by
       And he will question its dictum,
           enhance its message
           until it is changed and he has in turn
           uttered a word of wisdom into the wind.
   So this word will be changed and it will travel
     and each man who hears it will be the better
     for having heard it.

by Kathleen Albanese