This is a personal day of reflection for me. Forget about the insurrection. It’s a blight on my birthday. On that sad day in our country’s history, I was completely unaware. I was walking with my friend Dan and my beloved Dora in a quiet park, giving thanks for the winter birdsongs and the joy of watching Dora have a happy doggy day.
Today, as I start my celebrations of my birth, lo these many years ago, I suggest that it is not a day for celebrating me, but a day to celebrate my mother. I know very little about the story of my birth. Words like snow and ice, bus trip, almost too late come to mind. It was very inconvenient for me to make my appearance on one of the coldest and snowiest days of that winter. My dad was working in a nearby town, and I think he had to take a Greyhound bus back to Cincinnati, as his car had broken down. How my mother got to the hospital in time is a story I either forgot or never heard. When my kids have a birthday, somehow the stories of their births are always a feature of the celebrations.
I was an only child, although I had a half brother from my mother’s previous marriage. Thus, my parents, as well as Dick, doted on me, and I will always argue that I was not spoiled. My every need was met and most of my wants. I am thankful for all the gifts, loving family, middle class values, a strong work ethic, lots of humor, nice clothes, good food and plenty of it, and a happy childhood, all of which I took for granted. But here are some extras that were bestowed upon me.
My mother taught me to appreciate and love classical music. My aunt gave me dance lessons and nurtured my desire to become a serious student of tap and ballet. My grandmother gave me and my cousins the precious gift of country living, something I treasure and write about to this day. My dad set a valuable example of hard work and to get work done before play. He also took me on expeditions to collect nightcrawlers for fishing, which involved going to some place in the dark with a flashlight and my plucking up the worms with glove-covered “finnies.” He and I would walk to the drug store hand in hand, singing “Me and My Shadow.” He adored me.
My mother never complained about my vision loss. She taught me touch typing long before female high school students of the day were encouraged to take it. She worked all day as a typist and then as soon as we were finished with the dishes from supper, she helped me with reading assignments and proofreading compositions. She even had to read tests to me and much to her discomfort, write down the wrong answers if that’s what I told her to do. She was honest, supportive, and most of all, loving. She was proud of me, to a fault, even at the end of her 98 years.
When it’s your birthday, Dear Reader, do you give thanks to your mother and father for the gift of life? Do you forgive them for any shortcomings, as you see them? Nobody is perfect. We all make bad choices. But in the end, we hope that God has forgiven ours. Do I want to live until 98, just as my mother did? You bet, because I still have much to be thankful for. Happy birthday, Mom
The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living: a Daughter’s Memoir
Insight Out: One Blind Woman’s View of Her Life
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Contributing Columnist for Our Special Magazine