Gone Forever…Happy Birthday Mom

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Today would have been my mother’s 84th birthday. She only lived to celebrate her 50th.

For years I was sure that I would not live to see my 50th birthday (we had the same freckles, you know). I spent my 50th year in mild fear, fairly certain I would not live to celebrate my 51st or see my children reach adulthood. After I reached my 51st birthday plus one day, I calmed down. It was if making that milestone lifted most of my fears about dying young. I was relieved and it showed.

My mother died of lung cancer. She never smoked a day in her life. I just had genetic testing down which showed I was at a greater risk of lung cancer. Same with my oldest daughter. And while it is a little disconcerting I am glad to know about this increased risk so I can do the things that are necessary to watch for any early signs that may come along. Lung cancer is cruel and I will do what I need to in order to try and beat the odds of ever having it.

My mom died young. Besides all the wisdom I missed out on it still saddens me that she never knew my husband nor seven out of her eight grandchildren. She never had the opportunity to be the mother of the bride at both of her daughter’s weddings. We never shared adult stories nor did we get to explore what an adult relationship between the two of us would look like. I wonder what she would have said about how I have lived my life and what advice she would have given me concerning my marriage. I wish I knew. I would give just about everything I own to find out. Funny how her opinion is still so important.

When I see mothers and daughters at odds with each other it saddens me. I wish they could understand that there is a hole that opens up in your heart when you no longer have a mother to shop with, eat with, or share stories with. Thirty four years later the missing still hurts. Thirty four years gone and I still wish i could call her and have a few heart-to-hearts. I wish I could smell her perfume and see her in that green dress again. I would love to hear her sing and play the piano for my family. Just once.

Those of you with moms still on earth… try to be kind. Treat them well. It is hard being a mom and trying to live up to all the expectations society puts on mothers…having: perfect kids, pies, hair, gorgeous body, happy husband, no wrinkles, Able to: cook, change her own oil, keep a household running and looking magazine cover ready at all times, be a sex pot and a taxicab driver… all at the same time.

Most of all call your mom…today. You never know for sure if you will ever see her again. Treat her as if you won’t.

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Forgotten Things

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These past five days:

I have had the chance to rejoice

In the unconditional love of my grandkids

And basked in the joy of watching

Them learn and explore

Watched as cousins took turns

Comforting the crying baby

Willingly and with a gentle appreciation

Of the difficulties of travel on young ones

I have gotten to have a greater

Understanding of my daughter

Her daily life

And her aspirations and dreams

For herself and her family

I have met cousins from here to there

Two of whom I never knew existed

Until I found them last week

One on-line and one

In a tiny local historical center

The volunteer of which

Called him to say

“Come down here. A relative of yours is here!”

And he came lickety-split

To meet an unknown

Provided with a chance to talk and compare notes

Next to the sloth bones that another cousin

Dug up over 100 years ago

And others I have not seen

Since I was a moody teenager

Sulking in my own misery

And misunderstandings of life.

I have traveled to the towns

Of my ancients

And had a glimpse of how and where they lived

Drove by their houses and fields

Seen the rows of corn

That are planted in the same spot

That my Great-Great Grandparents hoed

I visited the graves of those grandparents

Who made the perilous journey

Across a vast ocean

With hope of achieving something

BIGGER and BETTER

For their children

Their dreams realized in the faces

Of their  never-known great grandchildren

And beyond

I have celebrated the birth of those

Who have shaped me

Shown me love and concern

Throughout these many years

And helped me to become who I am

I have been given precious keepsakes

Hundreds of years old

By my Aunt who loves to make

Others happy in the most

Delightful and meaningful of ways

I have felt the pain of my daughter

Whose child does not sleep

While admiring her calm and patience

On so little dream time

I’ve watched you, B

Love our children from afar

Reminding me, once again

Of all the precious people

I have waiting at home for me

With open arms and love in their hearts

But most of all I have had the opportunity

To feel all those blessings in my life

That I often miss during

The hustle and bustle

Of daily life

And those bountiful moments in time

With family members that love me

In ways once unimaginable

I am thankful for all

That I have

All I can give back

And for you

Giving me the chance

To discover things long forgotten

Birthdays

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Next week I head east for the  BIG BIRTHDAY BASH. My Aunt M will be turning 90, my father will be turning 80, and my cousin will celebrate her 70th.That is 240 years between them which amazes me. Even more remarkable they share the same birthday each 10 years apart.

During this weekend celebration I will have the opportunity to visit with cousins that I have not seen in 40 years. But best of all, my daughter and my grandkids will travel up north too. where we will spend time visiting the towns that my relatives used to live in 100 years ago. It will be a blast.

As I have prepared for this joyous occasion I have come to realize that birthdays are something we don’t pay enough attention to. Sure the day you are born is random but who you are and who you become is not. When you were born you brought hope, joy, and promise into this world and you are all still doing it today. Sure the luster may have tarnished a little here and there but the promise we offer the world and each other remains the same as the the day of our birth. What we give of ourselves is still precious. What we teach others is still important. The love we share is priceless. And often the same people who welcomed us when we arrived, still hold the dreams that they held for us on that day deep within their hearts and rejoice as we achieve them.

That is not to say that birthdays don’t have their downfalls. They do. Sometimes as we age we question what our purpose is. We sometimes stall when we should soar. Often birthdays serve to remind us that we must make good of the limited time we have on this earth and gently remind us to get our ass in gear. But most of all birthdays have proven to be good for your health as studies have shown that those who have more birthdays live longer.

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So here’s to birthdays big and small. This year, may you give yourself the gift of allowing yourself the freedom to be who you were born to be and the ability to rejoice in who you are!

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