top of page

Cathryn Flowers Ritchie

October 18, 1950 - February 11, 2024


Pioneer woman, born-again Christian, Covenant graduate, wife, mother of four, teacher, cook, writer, and friend.

feeding lucy.jpg
The first poet I ever encountered was my mother. mom wrote poetry and welcomed me to the world of writing your own poetry. She showed me how poetry was valuable and I could be part of it. I hope that everyone has someone in their life telling them their words are valuable.

Growing Up with Poetry on the Walls

It’s strange when you realize how unique your childhood was. You discover your parents are not like all other parents – and sometimes that’s a good thing. Growing up, there was Scripture, prose and poems around the house – things that helped mold me into the person I am today. I read and re-read these lines, and I began enjoying rhymes at an early age.

My mom wrote this poem for my dad, and it is a testament to their love and who she is as a writer, mother and Christian woman.
mom out_edited_edited.jpg

My Mother's Hands

My mother’s hands are bumpy. 

They are a sort of taupe color.

She wears a chunky blue ring.

She wears a sapphire wedding ring, because she lost her diamond nearly a decade ago.

My mother’s hands show some age, tell some stories.

They are not perfect. Neither is she.

Her pinky on her left hand doesn’t line up for roll call, quite like it should. When the other three stand at attention, straight and close together, it juts out slightly. It’s just a little bit rebellious, pulling away it’s own chosen direction. My mother was a bit rebellious too. Her uncooperative pinky is the result of an accident playing football with the guys.


My mother has a tiny scar on her middle finger. It’s from that time the white china bowl of grapes fell from the fridge and shattered. She cut her finger with a sliver of glass that had bacteria on it. My mother sometimes had difficulty cleaning messes. It took quite a while for the finger to heal. During that time she did hand therapy exercises that left her giving us all the old familiar gesture, as Simon and Garfunkel might say.


She loved Bridge Over Troubled Water. She loved Neil Diamond, Barbara Streisand, Nana Maskouri, and Josh Groban. Her hands would turn the dial up and blast the oldies station. On Saturday, her hands would open the CD of Les Misérables and put it in the stereo to play while we prepared the house for Sunday lunch house guests. When I was young and upset or having trouble sleeping, those hands rubbed my back while she sang me All for Jesus

Today her fingernails are probably painted red and chipped a little bit from her last manicure. I don’t think she wears a watch any more. Time has a different meaning in retirement from the role of stay at home mom.

My mom’s hands often hold a blanket. She calls it her do-do and laughs at the spectacle of a grown woman that might clutch a blanket like a toddler. My mom’s hands fix lipstick smudges and poof the back of her curled hair. My mom’s hands held mixing spoons, brooms, laundry baskets, grocery bags, and jingling car keys, a thousand times over. These carried books and babies.


My mom’s hands look large and feel immortal as she holds the tiny palm of my newborn daughter’s hand. And I pray that they would be, so she could feel my daughter’s hands lengthen and reach for life’s biggest, clumsiest, most precarious toy: time.


Colorado to California to Florida


I want a mom for Christmas

Dear Santa,

I want a mom for Christmas.

I want a mom so badly.

And I was pretty good this year, so I hope you will oblige.

There are a few requirements for her.

I want a very particular, certain kind of mom.

You’ll need the special elves to find her.

Here’s my list

I want a mom who makes yogurt face art a lunch project.

I want a mom who goes all out to make a table setting magical.

I want a mom who is enchanted by rain.

I want a mom who stays too long after church because she’s talking to her friends.

I want a mom that makes hot meals, like warm rice, chili or even eggs after long days at school.

I want a mom who likes road trips.

I want a mom who will play Scrabble at Denny’s at 2 in the morning.

I want a mom who likes action movies and wouldn’t mind an alternative life as a detective.

I want a mom who will sing Les Mis and Neil Diamond at the top of her lungs.

I want a mom who believes in justice, grace, and evaluating truth.


I want a mom who knows the value of a good hot shower and a nap.

I want a mom who loves blue and white china and wearing bright colors.

I want a mom who never stops thinking her husband is the bee’s knees.

I want a mom that rubs my back when I cannot sleep or feel so sick.

There you have my list, Santa.

If she’s not here by Christmas morning,

I’ll just assume she’s been right here ever since the day I was born.


Toads, Snails and Sandbox Friends

She was yellow green and orange with the midweek headache and a tower built out of old camera tripods came crawling around the corners of her desk and built themselves into a wailing wall of nostalgia and comfort.

She was steel, glass, and tiny broomstick fibers that bent and broke and sometimes flew, if a wind was strong enough to send these pieces gliding.

She was a goodbye glance and a morning smile covered in a bright polka dot umbrella meant for days.

When it would rain down in Caribbean size storms and also floating spheres that were full of pretty lilies, soft and precious in his sight.

She felt a lot of things.

Some were heavy, some were four leaf clovers that children chewed to see if they tasted like that sour mint grass that reminded me of the times we used to play by the creek and didn’t know the words paycheck, bill, traffic citation, government, or even regret.

On my bike I biked past Olivewood school again. I counted ten houses and twenty people who lived beside me and I never knew their names but I liked the flags in their yards, the light brown wood of their garages the noises as they return from work, from even school, while hiding in the bougainvillea I a child walked slowly by and told the giant world a childlike 'hi' and ran find a find own place to stare at the sky, a roof, a a tree, a moment surrounded by only me, me, me.

It was those some honeysuckle Saturday, where I reached over the fence to peek around and see if I could find a true love sitting down. A true love could be  a toad, a bee, another yard, a someone else I’d like to be. 

It was that sap that stuck like glue and smelled like trees and scraped up knees from climbing for pinecones in that tree, beside the hummingbird afternoons as California calls to me.

The memory swings from a tall tree and down a rope and on a branch that nearly touched the ground before the launch of me into the sky or yesterday’s by and by. It gets me here.

The words, the daffodils, my mother reading Whitman in my ear. Some days scars curls up and amount to tiny slimy things in snail shells that caravan away with spring time rain, in their place come the pavement crisp with sunshine and the dampness left from the dew, the sprinklers, the unusual visitor that was Orange County rain.

bottom of page