Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Dos: Day 194
Tues. July 24, 2012

“Mother Rose”
Patti Smith


“♫ Mother
Rose/ very little
morn’/ to tend
to me/ there she
stood/ waiting
by the door/

In 2004, Patti Smith released her very epic and lovely Trampin’ LP. That was also the same year I was forced to return to my parents’ home in San Antonio from Paris with a horrible case of post traumatic stress disorder which arose from being held up near my apartment in New Orleans, six months prior to me finally moving away from Myth City.

What do I remember from those two years I spent living once again at my parents’ house in San Antonio? I recall seeing a shrink I would eventually dub Dr. Snooze because he would always fall asleep during our sessions. Most of all, the times I cherished most were the moments I shared with my Mami. She was very fragile; physically more than I was, but we would still eat lunch together, every day. She knew how much fear had taken over my life after my traumatic experience. I couldn’t go out at night for over a year. Every time I would step outside, that image of the gun would flash in my mind.

With my Mami’s help, I eventually overcame my horrible case of post traumatic stress disorder. I felt trapped with terror. I didn’t want to leave my parents home alone. I could only go out during the daylight. If I ever attempted to go out at night, my demonic panic attacks would take over. My Mami was the one who was always encouraging me to meet new friends or simply to leave the house, by myself, if only for a short drive in the afternoon. A few of the ways she subtly did this was sending me to pick up our lunches, her prescriptions from the pharmacy and to the store for any necessary groceries that were needed for their house.

Looking back I like to think that I didn’t just help take care of my Mami, it was more like we helped to heal each other. The scariest part is the way her very potent medicines would knock her out in her chair in the middle of the afternoon. She would sit there so motionless, it truly frightened me because I couldn’t tell if she had stopped breathing or if she was sleeping, comatose. There were times I would try to wake her up, when my Papi would call for her, and she would sit there knocked out as if she was cocooning peacefully. Those moments when she stayed asleep truly scared me. Luckily, she always woke up, with a smile and more energetic than before.

When I hear “Mother Rose” I remember those two years I spent at my parents house in San Antonio. Once a week, if my Mami could find the strength, we would go out together and have lunch at her favorite restaurant, La Madeline. Looking back, I realize she did this for me, attempting to make me feel safe to help me overcome my post traumatic stress. On the way, my Mami would encourage me to spin my CDs. I could tell by the way she would bop her head up and down to the rhythm of the music that the album of mine she liked the best was Patti’s Trampin, especially “Mother Rose.” I would play it for her and she would smile. It reminded her of two young girls whom she would help babysit when we lived in Ann Arbor. They couldn’t say my Mami’s full name Rosalba, so they would call her Rose. I would sing the song to her as she sat in the passenger side of the car, as I drove us, with Patti’s song as the soundtrack to our weekly lunch excursions.

My Mami would love to know that Patti penned her favorite Trampin’ song for Smith’s own beloved mother, Beverly. “I wrote the lyrics very quickly not thinking why. it just came. it was all for my mom but I think it’s a very universal song.” Smith said describing the process of how “Mother Rose” came to life. Patti discussed her homage as she explained—“Mother Rose, I wrote for my mother but it’s more of a thank you to her, and also hopefully a really pretty song. It’s not a grieving song.”

Today I dedicate this 2004 song to my own “Mother Rose” who’s currently in a hospital in San Antonio. I sing, sending a long distanced dedication of her favorite Patti Smith song. From Los Angeles, I can feel her, still bopping, even from San Antonio, my “Mother Rose” will always be smiling along with me.