My mother as a young woman
A few years before she died, I asked my mother if she thought it would be great to live to be 100 years old. Her response was "Oh for God's sake," in a tone that immediately let me know that she thought that was the most ridiculous thing I could have said. It very well might have been, because it was 30+ years ago, and even then, people living to that age were very few and far between.
Today would be that day - my mother's 100th birthday. To be completely honest, I cannot imagine her at that age. Mostly because by the time she died, she was so sick and so frail, that even the fact that I loved her so much would not have made it worth her still being here.
Nonetheless, if she could have been healthy, it would be nice. I often feel a bit jealous of my sisters, who had the chance to know both of my parents longer than I did. They were fortunate enough to know them for a longer time when they were both healthy and energetic, and needless to say, quite a bit younger.
Having said that, I was lucky with my mother. For the most part she was healthy during the time I had with her. She was incredibly smart, and often wished she had the chance when she was young to have gone to college. She loved to laugh and have a good time, and you could not play a game with her without playing for money, even if it was a penny a point. "It makes it a lot more interesting," she would always say - and she NEVER let you win, just because you were a kid! She even figured out a way to play Trivial Pursuit for money ...
I do remember one time when I was young, asking her why she didn't do something, because so-and-so's mother always did it. Her response was, "Because you are not the center of my universe." That shocks people when I tell them, but it just seemed like her answer to me. I never felt any less loved or cared for because of that. And to be honest, I think it is probably good advice for any parent.
She thought The Tim was just the best. And of course, he played up to her all the time, because he loved her too. Her given name was Geraldine, but everyone always called her "Gerry" (though she spelled it Gere, "because my mother said, that's how it was spelled"). No matter, The Tim *always* called her Geraldine, and that was fine with her. They had many conversations about how I was a pain in the a** (all when I happened to be right there), and often found the same things hilarious to the point of tears. The Tim often tells me that he would give anything to hear her laugh again.
My mom's life was in no way an easy one. Money was scarce when she was child, and when she was an adult, but life was lived anyway. She grew up in a household where her parents were separated at a time when that was incredibly unusual, with her mother and her aunt, who was a nurse. She knew that it was just as important for women to get an education and be able to work as it was for any man. By the time I was able to be somewhat independent (I am the youngest child), my father was sick and she had to worry about and take care of him. After he died, she carried on and lived her life, and kept a good attitude even when she started having her own health problems.
I wish she could have seen her grandchildren to adulthood, and known her great-grandchildren - she would be telling anyone and everyone about how wonderful they are, whether or not anyone had asked. She would get such a charge out of everyone, and be right there with all of our ridiculousness.
In our house, Christmastime started on December 1, but *serious* Christmastime started after her birthday on December 2. She hated it when she was a child, and someone handed her a gift and said, "This is for your birthday and Christmas," and as a result, I *never* give anyone with a December birthday only one gift. She adored Christmas music, and would sing along whether or not she knew the words (which admittedly drove me nuts!), often just making things up. She and my dad made everything special, but outdid themselves for Christmas, which is I suspect why I love it so much.
She died 30 years ago this past July. Not a single day goes by that I don't think about her at least five times, and admittedly, I still talk to her sometimes. When December 2nd comes along, it's always bittersweet because she loved celebrating her birthday, but she's not here to do it anymore.
And so, today, when she would have turned 100 years old (for "God's sake" or not), I hope she is celebrating with my dad, and that she knows that even 100 years would never have been long enough to have her here with me. And that she also knows every single year, she is with me during Christmastime, along with my dad and all of the memories that make it even better.
Happy Birthday, Mom. Love you.