My mother celebrates her eightieth birthday this week. As I pondered this milestone in my mother's life, I decided to write about my childhood memories of her.
Shocked, I realized that specific memories escaped me. Instead I found a general feeling of presence. And I asked myself, "Why?"
My specific memories focus on points where she stepped out of the solid background of our family and showed a different side than I was used to: the day she took me out of school early because my best friend's mother had committed suicide and my friend wanted me by her side; the afternoon after my oldest sister's wedding when Mom disappeared to a quiet part of the house to cry; a tumble down the stairs that left my formidable mother lying in the floor, my younger sister and I hovering, unsure what to do. She even taught me where to kick when a very large girl began bullying me in the seventh grade (luckily I never had to try that kick). Each of these stand out because of the contrast with the smooth world she created for us.
Of course, there are other memories that stand out. Unlike my siblings and father, Mom and I are not afraid of heights. She's the one who rode the Ferris Wheel or Roundup with me. She danced us around the kitchen, the tango typically her favorite, ending with a dip at the end. And in Putt Putt, Mom usually got the hole in one and the best score.
She's there morning, noon, and night. Not overpowering, just contributing to our lives in the way that mothers do. Thank God for Mom.
Happy birthday Mom. I love you.