Welcome! I'm glad you're here - even if you just happened to

stumble upon my site while searching for a poem to share with your mother - or loved one. Make yourself at home while you peruse this official website for "When You Thought I Wasn't Looking." Whether your visit is intentional or accidental, I hope our chance "meeting" adds a few moments of joy to your day. If you have time, please leave me a note. I love to hear where my poem has landed and would love to hear your story.

                                         

                                       Love and blessings,

                                                Mary Sill

 

When You Thought I Wasn't Looking

                  - by Mary Rita Schilke Sill (C)1980

 

When you thought I wasn't looking

You hung my first painting on the refrigerator

And I wanted to paint another.

 

When you thought I wasn't looking

You fed a stray cat

And I thought it was good to be kind to animals.

 

When you thought I wasn't looking

You baked a birthday cake just for me

And I knew that little things were special things.

 

When you thought I wasn't looking

You said a prayer

And I believed there was a God that I could always talk to.

 

When you thought I wasn't looking

You kissed me goodnight

And I felt loved.

 

When you thought I wasn't looking

I saw tears come from your eyes

And I learned that sometimes things hurt

But that it's all right to cry.

 

When you thought I wasn't looking

You smiled

And it made me want to to look that pretty too.

 

When you thought I wasn't looking

You cared

And I wanted to be everything I could be.

 

When you thought I wasn't looking

I looked

And I wanted to say thanks

For all the things you did

When you thought I wasn't looking.

 

           Imagine shaking a feather pillow from an upstairs balcony on a blustery day. The feathers dance as they sail, scattering in every direction. While some of them remain in sight, it's quite unclear as to how far some of the them travel. In the end, most would say with certainty, that it's impossible to even know where to look in order to gather all the feathers. One could hope, nonetheless, that wherever a single feather lands, it brings a sense of wonder to the finder; a sense that there must be a story behind this small treasure. Like feathers cast to the wind, my poem, "When You Thought I Wasn't Looking," once shared publicly, took flight, leaving me completely mystified as to the journey taken since its inception - nearly forty years ago. And now, as Paul Harvey would quip, "Here's the rest of the story"...

          In 1980, as I was finishing my undergraduate degree in early childhood and elementary education from Bowling Green State University, I paused to reflect upon my life. I didn't take for granted the myriad of mentors who guided my steps along the way, and I realized I owed a debt of gratitude to many. However, my mother, more than anyone, stood as my hero. She was there for every twist and turn, arms always open, believing in me with steadfast love, even when I could not see to believe in myself. As I reflected, I thought about a letter she wrote to me when I was a junior in high school that had been tucked in my wallet for safe keeping. I pulled the letter out to read once again, and carefully cradled it in my hands. I noticed small tears were forming in the creases, and the edges had become a bit tattered. Written on white notebook paper, her cursive writing, an example of perfect penmanship, showcased her heartfelt message. It reached deep to my core. In the middle of a busy life, tending to the needs of six children, my mother carved out time to record a personal message - a blessing. That kind of love anchors a heart like nothing else can.

        

Photo credit by Gary Riggs

 

          If only every child had someone in their life that loved them enough to claim it with such loving expression. Realizing the indelible nature of this gift, I asked God to give me words that would be as penetrating - and as worthy to convey my gratitude to my mom. No sooner did I send this request to the heavens than the words fell softly to my paper like snow meeting the branches of a pine. My poem, "When You Thought I Wasn't Looking," was inspired by my mother, Blanche Schilke, and an answer granted to my simple prayer.  

          Realizing I needed a medium to display my poem, I created a whimsical water color painting of a tree using soft brush strokes and warm colors as a backdrop for my words; and I then found a gold rimmed frame to encase my small gift. I presented it to my mother the day I graduated from college. As my mom read her poem for the first time, her eyes expressed what words could not. Emotion tugged, and tears slipped gently down her cheeks. Anyone who knew my mom knew she not only understood the adage, love is in the details, but she embraced it, breathed it, and lived it. Her vocation became her family and doing all the things nobody notices - until they're not done. My poem simply reached out to let her know that what she did ... mattered. After a small family celebration, my mother hung my framed poem on her living room wall; a place of honor.

         A week following my graduation, I was married with the intention, of course, that it would be forever. After twenty-five years, sadly, my marriage imploded. Even in the pain of that dark time, it was clear that the true gifts from those years were my three children: Jennifer, Andrea, and Josh. I thought them to be remarkable at the moment of their birth - and they continue to generate awe within me. They absolutely make this world a better place, not only with their professional accomplishments in their respective disciplines, but in the way they live their lives with grit, imagination, and kindness.

         It was at my wedding reception where I first shared "When You Thought I Wasn't Looking" in a public platform. As my way of thanking guests for joining our celebration, I planned to sing a medley of songs (family favorites) with my guitar. As the time drew near, I decided to conclude this mini-concert with a musical rendition of my poem as a surprise tribute to my mom. It's a moment I will never forget. As love filled the room, I knew that my tribute had been understood. Afterward, guests asked for a copy of my poem, and I obliged by sending printed copies with the handwritten thank you notes sent out that summer, never giving a second thought to the possibility that it would be shared beyond that circle of family and friends. At my mother's urging, I secured a copyright for my poem, and this - as in most cases proved that mom knew best.

         Fast forward to June 6,1997 - as our family traveled to Columbus, Ohio, I was reading A Fourth Course of Chicken Soup for the Soul when I turned to page 136 and saw the title of my poem staring back at me. A spontaneous scream erupted, and a shiver shot down my spine. I felt as if I were having an out of body experience. Certainly, it could not be real. I handed the book to my daughter, Jen, in the back seat, and asked her what she saw. She said, "Mom, it's your poem!" It was then we noticed at the bottom of the text, the words, "Author Unknown."

         Unraveling the mystery of how my poem landed on a page in the New York Times' best-selling book, Chicken Soup for the Soul, was like putting together a jig-saw puzzle without all of the essential pieces. Nonetheless, I was able to determine that the editors of Chicken Soup gleaned my poem from another book titled, Stories for the Heart, written by Alice Gray. Ms. Gray explained that she was first introduced to my poem through the published writing of Dr. David Walls - Learning to Love When Love Isn't Easy. It turns out that Dr. Walls was a minister at the Church of the Open Door in my hometown of Elyria, Ohio. He could not recall who gave him a copy of my poem, but that copy had no author's name attached. Since that time, my poem has popped up in places as common as Dear Abby, The Detroit Free Press, and TODAY Parents. Helen Birnbaum, who hails from Israel, recently included it in her book, Healthy Body, Peaceful Mind, Awakened Spirit.

         Life has not been an easy journey for my mom. Nonetheless, we realize the gift of each day, and find joy in the simple things; mostly in time spent together. The original piece remains a prominent presence in her home, and the years have not diminished the bond these words formed between us. As I celebrate my mother, now at the age of 87, there is an even greater understanding that kindness, begun with a mother's love, and carried like a feather in the wind, reaches places beyond what I will ever hope to know. I am thankful for the friendships generated by its journey, and pray the words given to me continue to bless those, united by chance - or design - and that love will always win over all.

         Speaking of love winning over all ... just when I was convinced a second chance at love was not in the cards for me, it came knocking at my door.  A year after my phone number (given from a mutual friend - thank you Mary Zielinski!) sat perched upon his desk, John Sill called to invite me to dinner. Not only did I fall in love with him - but his son, Gordon, (who happens to be insanely talented, musically) became a rich part of my life as well. We married on 9-10-11, and among family and friends, celebrated a new beginning. This year, to mark seven years together, I wrote the following - my gift for John.

 

 

 

 

 

        

Photo credit by Gary Riggs

         Through the years, life has taught me that a good story usually has more than one chapter. Typically, there is drama in the form of adversity and triumph, and sometimes, when we aren't looking, one ending is really just the beginning of another ...

         It was Friday evening, December 14, 2018 when my son, Josh, a newly minted graduate from the Kelley School of Business said, "Mom, I have something I want to give to you." He handed me a black and white polka dot gift bag, and I pulled out a framed poem. At first, I was confused by the title - "When You Thought I Wasn't Looking" - until my eyes met the notation - (2nd Generation). I gasped, and felt goosebumps envelop my entire being. To be honest, it was difficult to read through the liquid joy that filled my eyes, but I let every word sink into my bones. I can honestly say that now I know how my mom felt when she read my poem for the first time. Just the day before receiving this precious gift, I had asked Josh for an assist to proofread the writing I had worked on for my new website. He has razor-sharp editing skills, and I was pleased he accepted my query. It was only then, as he read my story, he realized the timing of his gift, was indeed, surreal. Thirty-eight years apart, our college graduations marked the moment we both chose to share our gratitude and love through the simple words of a poem.  To me, it's a moment that will always be unforgettable.

 

When You Thought I Wasn't Looking (2nd Generation)

by Josh Korzan (C) 2018

 

When you thought I wasn't looking

You were in the stands cheering my name

And I believed in myself.

 

When you thought I wasn't looking

You taught a classroom full of children

And it made me want to learn.

 

When you thought I wasn't looking

You gazed up at the stars in wonder

And I found love for the little things.

 

When you thought I wasn't looking

Life's passion sparkled in your eyes

And I wanted to be just like you.

 

When you thought I wasn't looking

You sang so beautifully, rocking me to sleep

And I learned "whatever will be will be."

 

When you thought I wasn't looking

You had "something really important" to tell me

And I realized that you can light up someone's life

With three simple words.

 

When you thought I wasn't looking

I saw the weight you carried, every day with a smile

And it made me want to be strong too.

 

When you thought I wasn't looking

You followed your heart

And I knew that dreams do come true.

 

When you thought I wasn't looking

I looked

And I wanted to say I love you

For all the things you did

When you thought I wasn't looking

 

.

 

                                    

                                          Photo credit Santiago Flores

         

         In reading these words, a million memories come tumbling toward my heart. I remember savoring every minute of rocking him, holding him in my arms, cognizant of the clock's chiming as I sang, "Que Sera, Sera." And how I loved riding through the neighborhoods with him snuggled into the little child seat on the back of my bicycle, as we shared the sun and soft breeze on our faces. How, as a young boy, he wished for a backyard swimming pool - one that had a snack bar! He was a party in a pint-size body. He's grown taller, smarter, and stronger now, but the party is as grand as ever. Nowadays, it's common for me to receive a text from him saying, "I have something REALLY important to tell you." When I first spoke those same words to him, he would ask, "What?" It didn't take him long to figure out the next part ... "I love you." Now, what's more important than that!