Today is your birthday. We celebrated last night, around that old wooden antique dining table in our childhood home, your home for more than forty odd years. It was a good, old school night full of laughter and life, and I kept sneaking glances down to the end of the table where my own three little girls sat slurping pasta, wearing their melting snowmen pajamas, squished together on the antique bench on which we usually stack mail. I found myself wondering last night where that bench came from, when you and Dad found it and where, whether it has a story.
I also stole glances at you, Mom, our beautiful and youthful matriarch. Sometimes I forget that you were born in Kansas, that you’ve come so far – geographically, existentially – from your roots and when I think about this fact, and marvel at it, it amazes me how I’ve done things so differently, how I’ve stuck so close. I’m so happy I have.
Time. It’s a slippery, magical thing. I remember you on the sidelines of all my games. I remember you by my side at the very table where we sat for dinner and cake last night, helping me study for a bio test or edit an English paper. I remember you in the audience when I played the trumpet for the jazz band and the orchestra. I remember you at my high school graduation and my college graduation and then at my graduation from law school. At my wedding, at the hospital to meet each of my three babes. On the stage at Dad’s memorial service. At my very first book reading.
You’ve been there, here, for all of it, Mom. And I know you know this, but I hope you know that I do. Now that I’m raising my own daughters – in the same urban wild where you and Dad raised the five of us – it’s impossible to lose sight of this, and important not to. Your unique and compelling brand of mothering has been a brilliant blueprint, and I thank you.
If Dad were here, Mom, I think he’d be proud of you. Maybe he wouldn’t use the word proud, but another, quirkier, more opaque word, but that’s not the point. I think he would smile his mustache smile and applaud your resilience, your spirit, the friendships you’ve made and strengthened, the way you’ve continued to live, and live well, in his unfurling absence.
On this Monday morning, the 16th of November, I raise my coffee mug to you, Mom, to many more Moo-Moo birthdays around the old wooden table, to the stories and memories we all carry with us in our heads and hearts and homes, to those stories we will continue to live and the memories we will continue to make.
I love you, Mom. We all do. To pieces.