02 December 2018

Happy Birthday, Mom

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.


This post is my first one in the 2018 Virtual Advent Tour, hosted by sprite writes again this year.  Please consider joining everyone there for at least one day - reading the posts is so fun, and it's a good way to mark Christmastime.


sprite said...

::sniffle:: What an awesome tribute to your mom! Happy birthday to her, and I hope today is filled with all the funny and sweet memories of her that the day can possibly hold.

kayT said...

This is a lovely tribute to your mother, and to your life, really. And as I read, I saw that you and I got a lot of the same lessons from our moms.

Your description of the independence you learned from her was familiar to me for sure: my father was a farmer and we didn't have men's work and women's work; we just had work.

I loved your mom telling you that you were not the center of her universe. What a great thing for a parent to teach a child. I was an only child, born after my parents had decided they weren't going to have children, and my mother worked very hard to assure me that I was not the center of anyone's universe except my own. I wish this point of view was more common today. :)

My mom's birthday was December 21. When I was young she told me that she was an adult before she ever got a birthday present that wasn't wrapped in Christmas paper. I never forgot that and always made sure to use the Birthday-est paper I could find for her! Thus we were learning to see things from another's point of view.

Sorry for going on and on. Thank you for sharing this. It was a pleasure to read. Thanks for a trip down memory lane for sure.

Bonny said...

She may be saying "Oh, for God's sake" about this tribute, but it really is the best. Thanks for sharing all these wonderful memories.

Wanderingcatstudio said...

Your mother sounds like my kinda lady (especially on the Christmas/Birthday thing - I'm a December baby too, so I feel her!)

Araignee said...

Your mother joins a long line of December birthdays in my family. We have five so I understand her pain. She seemed like a great mom. That "center of the universe" thing is so familiar because that's how my parents raised us and I think we are the better for it. I wish I had been a little more like that with my own kids.

Dee said...

I think in honor of your Mom you should sing Christmas carols all day ------and get the words wrong.

You posted a LOVELY tribute to a beautiful woman and I SO agree with her ---- kids should NOT be the center of our universe. Wish I had known that then.

Jo K said...

Thank you for sharing these lovely memories of your mom and I hope you have a great day remembering all the wonderful things about her.

kathy b said...

what a beautiful tribute to your mom. I talk to my mom too , and I hope to continue. THere is such peace in it

Judith said...

Your mom would have been so pleased by this tribute, I think. You rendered the post so beautifully. The year 1918, close to my parents' birth year, which was 1923. Lots of my aunts and uncles were born in 1917 and 1919 and 1920 and 1911, etc., so I feel I almost know your mother, because of the times in which she grew up. How hard life was during the Great Depression and during World War II. Thanks for writing.

raidergirl3 said...

This was such a wonderful post. Thanks for sharing your Mom with all of us.

AsKatKnits said...

What a beautiful tribute to your mom! Thank you so much for sharing! XO

Vera said...

What a lovely tribute to your Mom Bridget! I talk to my Mom (and Dad) too!

elns said...

This was a beautiful post Bridget. Your mother sounds absolutely amazing and I hope my kid feels half the love you show in this post.

My husband and my mother get along ridiculously well. They have been thick as thieves since they day they met. Years ago I sent them out for oysters and they got sidetracked going to a dive bar. I tell you, if he says something is good, she believes it like it's gospel.