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October 28, 2014

Now that you’re a teenager! A poem by Jeff Cook


Honey, you’ve just turned thirteen and I left you all alone,

Have the years been hard for you? I hope that they have flown
I won’t ask if you’ve missed me, for I know in my heart
That the last thing you’d have wanted was for us to be apart
You had barely just been weaned from me when it first appeared
A little, almost “nothing” lump, too tiny to be feared
Though I thought I’d get it checked out if it didn’t go away
But it seemed to fade to nothing, and had disappeared next day

Believe me honey, I searched for it every morning and at night
For the fear of what it “might have been” had given me a fright
But for at least three months after that I couldn’t find a trace
And a friend of mine insisted “phantom” lumps are commonplace.

Honey, never, ever, ever, take chances with your health
For cancers can creep up on you with alarming speed and stealth
I was keeping very busy as a mother and a wife
But if I’d acted when suspicious, it could well have saved my life.

Honey it wasn’t that I was worried that I might lose a breast
But the tiny lump had disappeared, and my subconscious just suppressed
the fact that it might be important, so I waited for too long
Then found that it was still there – and honey, I was wrong

By the time I saw the doctor it had grown and grown in size
And they operated straight away, and honey, I despise
myself for not acting straight away when I first felt it there
I thought I did things right you know – sweetheart, it isn’t fair.

I never got to do the things that mothers always do with daughters
To be their greatest fan in life, their number one supporters
To help you learn to read and write, to put makeup on your face
That joy may fall to someone else, if another takes my place.

Your Dad is the most loving man our Lord in heaven made
And if he found you a new mother, I’m sure she’ll make the grade
She’ll have taught you and have guided you as I’d loved to have done
And if only – no, I won’t say that, for I’m not to be the one

I’m writing down these thoughts as I have only weeks to live
And the years of teaching about life and love are no longer mine to give
I won’t be there to bring you up like other mothers do
But honey, learn from my mistake, that’s my advice to you.

By the time you get to read this, they may have found a cure
No more will women have to face the pain that I endure
My death may well be wasted, but will you promise anyhow
That you’ll have annual check-ups, and that you’ll start them now!

Go on and do your growing up, I’ll be watching from above
I’ll be cheering you with all my heart, with every mother’s love
You’re thirteen now and doing things that all young women do
And as you go about your growing up remember, I love you.

South Australian farmer Jeff Cook started writing poetry following the death of a close friend from cancer, at age 29 in 1990. Since losing his farm to high interest rates, Jeff has spent his time writing thousands of poems.