Thanks to the well-wishers both here and on Facebook who sent birthday greetings. I think we’re all humbled and grateful when singled out from the crowd, and we’re assured of that at least one day a year.
I considered myself lucky to have both my husband and daughter with me on my birthday…the entire day. Since it occurred this past Monday, they would normally have been working. But fortunately for me, we’ve spent my last 3 birthdays together, flying home from California.
My daughter’s season with her ballet company usually ends in May, so that she seeks dance gigs where she can during the summer months. For a number of years now she’s been able to find summer employment both in Oregon and California. And my husband and I have been able to see her perform closer to home, than traveling cross country to where she normally works. Our family is very grateful for these small blessings.
Before heading to the airport to return to Seattle, our daughter in tow, we opted to have a nice birthday breakfast at the Hyatt Hotel located near where we stayed while in California. As we sat awaiting our meal, tears came to my eyes. Noticing, my husband and daughter asked what was the matter. I replied that I was thinking of my mom.
As I sat amidst the splendor of the Hyatt’s restaurant, I was saddened that my mom hadn’t experienced a life such as mine. That she never remarried after being widowed at age 30; that she faced the remainder of her life without a loving companion by her side; that for each and every birthday, she didn’t have her own family doting upon her; that she lived on love leftover from what others could spare.
My mom’s life was good, considering how it began, she being the youngest of 14, widowed early and left with 9 children to raise. We, her offspring, did our best to provide for her while trying to provide for ourselves and our own families. But while her physical needs could be met, providing for her emotional and psychological needs were difficult at best.
Like the rest of us, my mom perceived life according to her own experiences, both good and bad. Without a companion to help highlight the good and diminish the bad, it’s my feeling she amassed negativity until it totally consumed her. Falling victim to Alzheimer’s did not help. But I’m certain her negative frame of mind contributed to the onset of the dreaded disease.
Being the youngest in my family meant I was the last to leave home, and was therefore alone with my mom as she began middle-age. On a daily basis I bore witness to her inner struggles, her insecurities, her doubts. I often absorbed the brunt of her personal frustrations. And there was no one in whom I could confide, except a few best friends with whom I’d grown up. My siblings were gone, and had families and lives of their own to tend.
Throughout my adult life, my mother and I continued to struggle, she trying to continue dictating to me, and me obviously resisting, trying to live my own life, especially after I married, and had a child 16 years later. Not until she passed away, and I experienced firsthand the challenges of motherhood, as well as middle-age, did I fully appreciate the purgatory my mom’s life must’ve been.
Though we were often at odds with each other when she lived, my mom was the one human being who knew me best, until my husband and daughter arrived on the scene. My mom was there for me, moreso at certain times in my life than others. But she was my world, my family, for she was all I had day in, day out, for years growing up. For better, for worse…she was always there for me.
So when I celebrate my birthday, I celebrate my mom’s life…