Monday, May 26, 2008

Happy Birthday, Mama!

I’ve been trying this year to honor the birthdays of family members by posting in this blog, but this is one of the hardest to create. My mother turns 85 year old today. If you know my mother, you know that words fail when talking about her. If you have never met my mother, you’ve missed something special.

You can’t pick your parents (although my son Matt swore when he was younger that God took him on a world tour before he was conceived to have him choose his mother, and he chose me), but being born to this incredible lady was an extraordinary blessing to me and my sister. We tease her about her eccentricities and she laughs with us. She is the most patient person I have ever met, the most accepting of life’s events, the most generous and most encouraging woman. She is prepared to believe the best about anyone, almost to the point of naiveté. She has been robbed many times - from someone breaking in her house to someone stealing her license plate - twice - and someone digging up her azalea bushes in the front yard at night, which is kind of ironic, because if someone just asked her for something within her power to give, she would give it without hesitation. She will purposefully go without in order to have money to give to others. She finds equal pleasure in a photograph of her great-grandchildren sent through the mail and my sister’s homegrown lettuce. She celebrates with us in big things, yet delights in the very small things. It is so easy to bring a broad smile to her face, or, if you’re lucky, a hearty cackling laugh.

Our dad died in 1980, and for 28 years, she has lived alone, a hard adjustment, but one she has managed to do successfully. She will drive anyone anywhere, she will do a good deed for anybody, and she is always surprised when someone does something for her - as if she never expected it. Her life has been always lived for others - her family, friends, neighbors, and church. She knows no other way.

My sister and I play the piano today because she always wanted to play, but never got the chance to learn. She plays vicariously through us (and my two nieces, who have carried on the tradition).

And I live vicariously through her. I desperately try to emulate her generosity and patience and positive attitude, although I’m afraid I’ll never come close.

I’m flying down to Memphis in August to surprise her for a visit. Every minute with her is precious and bittersweet, as I am always conscious of another impending separation. What did I do to deserve such a wonderful mother? Nothing. What can I do to honor her? Live a life worthy of her daughter. I only hope I am up to the task.

Happy birthday, dearest Mother! I wish you many more years of being a blessing to those around you!

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