Today, November 1st, is my mother’s birthday. She is 30 years older than me (plus some months and days), and I am grateful that she waited to have children. My sister and I have always benefitted from her hard work, her life experience, and her wisdom.
My mom spoiled my sister and I. We were allowed to climb in the big parents’ bed to sleep, we were encouraged to find a way to play, no matter what, and she had a sympathetic ear when we didn’t want to clean our rooms. We also learned that one of the best treats is ice cream, after popcorn. She may have had a hard time saying no, but she definitely taught us fun. We have had hard times and good times, but she is able to find the joy in any situation.
When my mother was 18, she left home and got a job as a secretary for the state department. She spent those daring years living in Germany and Russia, at the heart of the Cold War, typing letters for diplomats. When she came home, she moved in with her best friend, and they took off on a road trip across the country. Eventually, she got back together with her high school sweetheart (my dad), and they settled down together. This has served as a pattern for me: be brave, travel, love.
To meet her, you might say she’s good-natured and funny, and incredibly supportive of those around her. But she is stronger than you’d guess. She and my dad decided to uproot us and move to a small town when we were 11 and 9. We fought and cried to stay in our school, but we were dragged two hours away to horse country. My father had long dreamed of having his own ranch, and my mother worked in their small business to make his dream a reality. In a quiet moment, I heard her whisper, “I just never thought I’d have horses and cows.” This only underscores her love and devotion to her husband.
Now my sister has two children. I see the grandkids getting spoiled like we were when they go to grandma and grandpa’s house, and I love when I get to be a part of it.
My mom’s life experience has given her patience and understanding. I am told that I am like her, and I hope that is true. I look a bit like her, but I don’t know that I have her patience. I DO know, however, that I will live my life following what she taught us:
-Love completely and unconditionally.
-Even at the worst times, ice cream and a funny movie can make everything better.
-Be adventurous. If you want to see the world, go do it.
-Work hard. You are in charge of your own destiny, and you can find a way to get to your dreams.
-Support your husband. He is your partner, and together you can make your life what you want it to be.
-Cleaning is less important than playing. This includes encouraging small children to play in the mud.
-Nothing is impossible. You just have to believe it will happen.
-Make the people you love the most important things in your life. That means every phone call should be greeted with an excited “Hello, there!” even if we’ve already talked today.
Here’s my mom and dad with me sometime around the beginning of 1978:
Don’t you love these old pictures? Isn’t she pretty?
Here’s another one of my mom and her sister with me (in the red gingham…!) and two of my cousins:
Weird gene pool, I know…blond aunt, dark-haired cousin, blond me, dark-haired mom.
Gotta love the 70s styles.
Thanks for everything, Mom. Happy Birthday! We love you.