I have this memory of my Mom. I distinctly remember sitting outside in the backyard of my childhood house- it was sunny and she was laying on a lounge chair and I was sitting in a chair, poolside. I was talking to her about a project I had to do for school, a college writing course on oral histories, and mulling over ideas of whom I’d like to profile. My grandma? Mrs. Miller, the spry old lady who worked at our elementary school all those years? Or maybe, her? My very own Mother? As a Women’s Studies/Literature major, I wanted to focus on a strong woman and her story.
I don’t recall exactly how we came to discuss the next bit but I remember saying to her that I was a lot like her in personality to which she disagreed. She pointed out that I was brave and smart and strong, that I plowed ahead with my goals and was unstoppable. I tried to counter that all those things she thought I was, I learned from her. But she wasn’t convinced. That conversation has always stuck with me- how a person can’t see themselves the way the people who love them see them is one of the great misfortunes of life.
I will tell you this now- my Mom is the bravest woman I know. She is brave with love and gives everything she has to the people she cares about. Years and years ago she fell in love with a man who later would break her heart in a million pieces and yet she kept on loving him. She raised my sister and I amidst the chaos and turmoil of alcoholism. She worked two jobs to make sure we could keep our house and maintain a semblance of our lifestyle when my Dad could no longer work. She never stopped encouraging us to go to college and thanks to her, I was the first one to graduate from a 4 year university from my extended family. She was at her best friend’s side daily as she battled cancer. She quit her job and became a full-time caregiver of my Grandma when the Parkinson’s became too much. She packed up her comfortable life with a view of the Pacific, friends, and a house, to move to Seattle and be with us.
When I think about my Mom, I am struck by her dedication to the people she loves, her courage in the face of great sorrow, her ability to laugh at life and enjoy the little moments, her welcoming warmth that has made her a second mother to many of our friends, her big heart that makes her give and give some more, and her tenacity of spirit.
I am my Mother’s daughter and I could not be more proud of that fact.
Happy Birthday, Mom. You are beautiful.
I love you.