Arts in New York City: Baruch College, Fall 2008, Professor Roslyn Bernstein
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Frances Richey

Once we make a decision, it’s often too late to change. For Frances Richey, however, she was able to repair her relationship with her son, Ben. I chanced to meet her at the Macaulay Honors event, hosted on the Veterans Day. Though I did not know much about her background, prior to the event, her poems reflected her internal struggle with her son. In a divided family with separate views on politics, Richey struggled to compromise with Ben. After He was deployed to serve at Iraq, Richey began to realize how selfish she was. In her published book, The Warrior, Richey attempted to reconstruct her fractured relationship with her son.

Though I could not recognize her appearance in the basement, I could sense her misery and her disconnection to his son from her subdued voice. She was one of the first few people, I have encountered in life, who was optimistic about her future yet regretful of what she had done. After she recited few of her poems, what gripped my attention was her style of poetry. It was one of those that didn’t rhyme. “The way you did when you were twelve and I was afraid to open the door I’d forgotten to lock. You went in ahead of me.” In her poem “To My Son In Iraq” Richey expressed the bravery of his son to fight the war and how she lacked the confidence. For most of her poems, thought they mainly were addressed to her concerns for Ben, the theme was universal. For families, with someone serving the country, they put their views aside and supported the soldiers.

Though Richey repaired her relationship with her son after he came back from war, I felt that she had given up part of who she was. In my perspective, she accepted defeat. Richey noted that she never argued about their difference in political view after he was home. This was one aspect that continued to puzzle me. I had come to the conclusion that her defeat was what essential all mothers would do. They sacrificed themselves for the children.