I never explained why I started writing more detailed birthday posts for my family over the past year, but it’s because Doc and I had a friend who lost her mom to Alzheimers two years ago. During the funeral, our friend gave such a wonderful picture of who her mom was and what made her so special, and I thought, “I should do that for my loved ones while they’re still alive.”
Let me tell you, though–after my mom got her diagnosis but before we learned that she could go through treatment, it crossed my mind that this actually could turn into a eulogy, and I told the universe that it better not. Thankfully, the universe listened, Mom turned 70 yesterday, and I’ll be writing more of these as long as I care to blog.
My mom is a born teacher. She taught me how to sew, she taught me how to cook, she taught me how to garden, she taught me how to take care of people. She volunteered at my elementary school for years and taught a lot of kids everything from critical thinking to how banks work. She knows so much and she tells you the right way to do it all. My younger self (and I bet her younger siblings) thought that was bossy, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve realized that she just knows it all and I’d better listen to her, whether it’s what plants to grow or how to take care of cats.
She is, objectively, a beautiful woman. You don’t realize that about your mom as a kid and then as a teen you’re more concerned about what the world thinks of you (teens are assholes), but she is stunning. People meet her and say, “She reminds me of Diane Keaton.” As she ages, that bone structure just becomes more and more apparent and she gets more and more striking. Even at the hospital last month, she had the residents and young doctors making excuses to come check on her and acting goofy.
She took such pains to make sure her kids could be creative: art supplies, acting classes, twenty years of music lessons. If you asked her, she would say that she isn’t creative at all, or that “your father’s the artist”–but if you looked at how she combines colors in her garden, or how she dresses, or how she decorates her home, you would see someone with an incredible eye for color and proportion. An artist.
She’s a remarkable woman. Much like “creative,” I don’t know if she would say she’s “strong”–but over the last six weeks she’s kept the family together, even as we try to step up and take care of her. When she thanks me for taking care of her, I can only tell her, “I learned from the best.”
I learned it from you, Mom. Happy birthday.