Thursday, December 29, 2011

Birthday Memories

My mom turned the big 6-0 yesterday.  Forty plus family and friends joined in on the celebration, but not in the traditional sense.  A swanky surprise party would've been great, but having a birthday three days after Christmas makes that kind of tough, if not impossible.  So instead, we surprised mom with memories - each one sent to me by her friends and family which I packaged separately.  The stack of envelopes was presented to her over dinner last night and the surprise was just as overwhelming as I thought it might be.  I introduced the surprise with this:


Happy 60th Birthday!  This is a milestone year for you, but for more significant reasons than just beginning a new decade.  You have overcome more in the last few years than most people will experience in a lifetime.  Your marriage ended after almost forty years, you lost a child and you were diagnosed with a life threatening disease – people probably expected you to wither away; become a changed person with no love for life.  But you chose to fight back.  Your strength brought you into work every day with a smile on your face when you probably wanted to stay in bed and cry.  You welcomed three more grandchildren into your life with enthusiasm and show them unconditional love every day.  You continue to do selfless things for others when you very easily could care less.  You have managed to face adversity with acceptance and grace. 
“Adversity is like a strong wind. It tears away from us all but the things that cannot be torn, so that we see ourselves as we really are.” ~Arthur Golden

You are a strong, courageous woman.  I admire you, I idolize you, but most importantly, I deeply love you.

            Turning 60 is a big deal.  It’s a new beginning.  And the 40+ envelopes in your hand are proof that you have friends and family who love you and want to see you happy.  Each and every one of these people have been touched in some way by your kindness, your great sense of humor, your love…you have left a permanent mark on their life.  They all wanted to share their memories of you – ones that they will never forget.  So I will begin:

            I will never forget waking up one morning (I was in 7th grade) and realizing that I just started my period.  Since several of my friends had already started theirs, I was somewhat giddy about it.  I instantly felt older, more mature.  I walked downstairs and woke you up to quietly tell you that “my friend” had arrived.  You staggered out of bed and brought me over to your vanity.  You dug deep into the back of the cabinet and pulled out a HUGE pad that must’ve been from the 1970’s.  I didn’t even recognize the packaging.  I wasn’t too thrilled, but I still took it and tried to adhere it to my underwear – but what do you know?  The damn thing was so old there wasn’t any sticky stuff left so it just fell out of my underwear.  I was mortified.  I immediately called Rosie Lopez and asked her to please bring me a tampon to school.   

            Another fond memory is your obsession with coloring your hair.  Thinking back I see shades of blonde, brown, red, orange…you name it, I saw it on your head.  But on this particular night you wanted to dye your hair back to its “original” hair color – whatever that was – I don’t think you really even knew.  After letting the color set for awhile, you washed it out and blew your hair dry.  I walked into the room to see Elvira standing before me.  Your hair was blacker than the ace of spades.  But the funniest part of the story was when Dad came home – you were already in bed asleep.  He came upstairs and asked me why Doobie was sleeping in his bed!  I said, “That’s not Doobie, Dad.  That’s mom’s new hair.”

            Most of all, l I remember our girl time.  I always felt special when we would go shopping together – just you and me.  I always got more clothes than the boys (of course you tricked me into getting cheaper ones – quantity over quality J )  There were a few years where we weren’t very close (we’ll blame it on teenage hormones), but now, more than ever, I realize how proud I am to be your daughter.  You are not only a wonderful mother, but you are a best friend.   


I Love you,

There were tears...

There was shock from who participated...

But most of all, there were laughs...and even sometimes howls...

Happy 60th Birthday to the greatest woman I know.  Thank you so, so much to everyone who sent their memories and shared this wonderful experience with my mom and me.

1 comment:

Score said...

Happy Birthday Kathy!