For my beautiful mom
Although I can't physically be with you on your 90th birthday, I want to thank you for living such a wonderfully long, healthy, loving and productive life.
And for your love.
Thank you for role-modeling the epitome of what a mother should be . . . your unconditional acceptance has held me up and wrapped itself around me throughout my life.
Thank you for sharing your vivid memories of the Great Depression in the dustbowl of Oklahoma. You were able to illustrate how events in history and struggles in society can make or break a person.
For the record: it made you.
(And, in your honor, I fold this piece of used tin foil, neatly tucking it in the drawer to be summoned for its second coming. Thank you for the gift of sensible frugality.)
And thank you for making peanut butter on saltine crackers taste like heaven amidst hearing how you went hungry as a child, survived on beans for many a meal, and still grew up to love them.
Thank you for always answering when repeatedly asked, "tell me about the olden days." Time after time--and I know you didn't always want to do it--you shared a vivid memory.
A small girl wearing a dress, riding bareback on the back of a horse and arriving to school with bloody legs, rubbed raw from the friction of the coarse horse hair-- physically ill from the experience. And the sweet teacher that took care of you. I could vividly imagine the scene in my mind's eye.
Picking cotton until your tiny fingers bled, smart enough to know: no cotton, no food.
Listening to the play by play of your life, connecting the dots of where it led you in your living, has inspired the passion and respect I have for folks' unique stories.
Thank you for encouraging me to live big. Pushing me out of the house as a teenager to stay with friends or take trips-- letting me know it was okay to get away and live life.
Willing me to have no fear, even though you saw yourself, at times, limited by fear.
Thank you for being by my side during pregnancies and parenting babies and sleepless nights that came for a variety of reasons. You were and are my best friend that knew the deepest, darkest secrets and struggles before anyone else.
Thank you for still being by my side.
Weighing out pros and cons of making this huge move to New Zealand, you spoke of people who stay in a holding pattern waiting for a parent (or someone) to die and how morbid that was . . . and with pluck that seems to creep up every year of your life, you stated, "I'm healthy, I could live another fifteen or twenty years. You would wait until your 70 to start living a dream?"
In that one conversation you gave me the gift of knowing this risk was okay. And hearing your enthusiasm about our adventures during our lengthy phone conversations, and your continuing affirmation of our choice, is a gift.
Thank you for being everything you have been to my children. As you know, they absolutely adore you. And hearing your genuine adoration for them makes me want to sing at the top of my off-tune-lungs about the circle of life. To see those I gave birth to, in awe of the woman that gave birth to me: priceless.
Thanks for being the sane and loving parent when anger and unpredictability defined the childhood that felt like it would never end. You raised me-- as a human and out of despair--then pushed me out of the nest and willed me to fly.
You are right.
We are always together.
We will always be together.
Seas may separate us.
Love holds us tight.
Love holds us tight.
Wishing you the happiest of birthdays.
You are always in my heart.