I wish she could have seen it…

Photo by Vanessa Kaukonen

Mom was born on a tobacco farm near East Windsor, Connecticut on June 12, 1910. She was a remarkable woman in many ways but on this day, her 111 birthday, I remember her simply as my mom! The picture above is the gate to the Fur Peace Ranch. She never lived to see this. She died the first week we were open. While she was still Beatrice, before the process of death gradually took away who she was, she donated some money to the Ranch for our beautiful flagpole. It still stands today. In the course of my life she gave me more than that… a debt that I can only repay by simply doing the best I can.

I used to call her and even though here voice got increasingly frail when I would ask how she was, she would always answer, ‘I’m still here.’ One day I called and I was told she could no longer hold the phone or speak. My brother told me, ‘If you want to say goodbye, you better get out here,’ and so I did. Before I headed to the Port Columbus Airport I wrote this song:

Song For Our Mother

By Jorma Kaukonen

April 27, 1998

Fur Peace Ranch

Meigs County, Ohio

Strength unto my life she was before I was a man

Daddy’s off to fight a war in some far off distant land

He don’t come around much just at special times of year

But Mama always holds our hands and puts away our fears

‘Come and take a walk,’ she’d say, ‘down by that old Pierce Mill

And listen to the water passing by the rocks and rills.’

‘That old grey goose will bite you, but you can feed the ducks,

Trust your heart in all you do, you won’t have to trust in luck.’


Mama tried to teach us to be strong

And keep walking against the wind even though your hope is gone

It don’t matter how alone you are today

‘Cause if you keep on walking hard, you’ll find a better way

Many years have come and gone, now that I’m a man

My bro and I are all that’s left in this part of our clan

Daddy won’t be coming back, he’s fought his final war

And Mama’s eyes look far away, for some distant shore

She wanders in her mind now to that old tobacco farm

When she was just a girl at play in my grandfather’s arms

He strokes her hair with loving hands and sends her on her way

To walk across this century, which brings us to today


My brother sits beside her bed and holds her hand so tight

He looks upon her shuttered eyes, will she make it through the night?

The what she is remains today, the who she is, is gone,

But what she’s done in both our lives I know will linger on

Her favorite books are closed now, her favorite song’s been sung

For her boys who stay behind her, she’s done all that can be done

She’s going to see her friends now that have vanished for so long

She’s on the road beyond the stars…

She’s going… going… gone

On May 8, 1998 she left for the last time, a final lesson of acceptance for me, her eldest son.

Today as I write this I see her in our back yard at 3312 Northampton St. She is hanging clothes to sun dry and she has wooden clothes pins clenched in her teeth. She is young and lovely as I, a little boy, listen to her hum a song through the clothes pins.

You started your walk across the 20th Century a long time ago mom. Well done!

Happy Birthday!


  1. Comment made on July 14, 2021 by Laura Silbermann

    Stopped by to catch up on your posts, not expecting I’d need a box of tissues.
    This is beautiful.
    I’m thankful for the blessing Beatrice left behind…You!!💙

  2. Comment made on July 12, 2021 by Paul Wasserman

    Jorma, that is an amazing and wonderful song. 🙏❣️🌈🙏
    I just love it!!

  3. Comment made on July 12, 2021 by Paul Wasserman

    Jorma, that is an amazing and wonderful song. 🙏❣️🌈🙏

  4. Comment made on June 16, 2021 by Leary

    Had my mom until I was 15. Loosing her definitely sent me in a different direction….not bad, just different. She made me what I am today (at least the good parts). Funny how one person can affect a man’s life even as preteen. I am in my mid 60’s now and have taken her with me…the guided me when I wasn’t even realizing it!
    All good, all good Jorma.

  5. Comment made on June 16, 2021 by Gary Dion

    Very beautiful! Thank you.

  6. Comment made on June 15, 2021 by Steve Goldston

    Moving. Thanks for bringing me tears.❤️

  7. Comment made on June 15, 2021 by John B

    Amen !@johno

  8. Comment made on June 15, 2021 by Paul Roberts

    That’s truly beautiful Jorma, thank you for sharing it. I lost my mum in 2017 and the pain lessens but never goes. Here in England I’ve loved your wonderful music since my teens in the sixties. Jefferson Airplane was my favourite band (with the Grateful Dead too) and I fell in love with Grace when I was 16! You and Jack were the engine to that wonderful group. Over the years I have loved Hot Tuna too and I want to thank you all for the lovely on-line gigs that have been a huge comfort through this terrible plague. If you’ll forgive me using your brilliant sign off, stay positive test negative 😊

  9. Comment made on June 14, 2021 by richard

    Any thoughts of moms cats jorma,i think i remember the burial site at your old place,been awhile.just rambling. will wishbone ash make a return to your venue? ?????

  10. Comment made on June 14, 2021 by eaglesteve

    Well said Captain. Thank you.

  11. Comment made on June 14, 2021 by BrendanC

    Don’t really visit here, but was drawn after just recalling summer days being allowed to help on Uncle Joe’s farm in County Roscommon, down the road from my late Mother’s home till she was 21. She would have been 88 this past Friday, but passed away several years ago. A Life Well Lived or Do Not Go Gentle played came by on my shuffler and she said she’d listened to the song driving through the Blue Ridge Mountains. During time when grief was still heavy most days, I attended Mr Casady’s b’day show at Levon’s (His Coal Miners Daughter Dad reminded her a lot of her father) and said to what she is, or was, that I was listening to the men who played that nice wooden music she heard then. I said they’re nice people, had trouble like me but have been well a good while, too.

  12. Comment made on June 14, 2021 by johno

    I sure miss my Mom. I know she’s alright.
    She taught me right from wrong and was a good woman.
    I’ll see her again soon in heaven.

  13. Comment made on June 14, 2021 by Bob S

    That was beautiful…

  14. Comment made on June 13, 2021 by John B.

    Beautiful!….thank you for that Jorma and many other things over the years.
    “I will stand out on the banks of the river…
    I won’t be back no more.” Rev. Gary Davis

  15. Comment made on June 13, 2021 by Brett Richardson

    I’ve always considered you an outstanding guitarist but now I realize you are also quite the poet! Thanks for sharing Jorma!

  16. Comment made on June 13, 2021 by Rick Lehman

    Just read your post from yesterday honoring your Mom and her birthday. Such sweet and tender memories with your poetry and the many posts you have penned on this site. Thank you for all you do and write. The clothespin visual is on point with my Mom as well… many, many moons ago.

    Also, I spun the wheel and it came up #36 for an encore quaratine concert last night. Fabulous evening to re-visit. Blessings to you and your family out there for all you have done and given to us.

  17. Comment made on June 13, 2021 by Ed

    Thanks for the beautiful post, Jorma.
    It was six months ago today my mom died, which may be the reason I’ve been kind of down this morning…and your mention of yours humming through the clothes pins reminded me of mine always singing. Among the many priceless things she did for me and my brother and sister, filling the air with songs is right up there.

  18. Comment made on June 13, 2021 by Richard

    Such lovely thoughts..Just a coincidence but my wife is also Beatrice and my son born on May 8th..What does that mean nothing I suppose just gets me to reflect of my sons early passing to the terrible opioid crisis..Your words and songs always get me to reflect sometimes in a sad way and much more times in a happy way..Thanks ..

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