Happy Birthday, Mom. You’d have been 92 today… but I think you don’t mind that you’re not here blowing out candles today.
Because now you are an unfettered free spirit, after a lifetime in a conflicted body. For someone born in Monroeville, Ohio in 1923, you did pretty good.
You loved music … it’s how you got through the ironing.
You loved to dance … it was the way you allowed yourself to play.
You loved to tell stories … your imagination took you far from that boring small hometown.
You loved to wear classy clothes … and what a struggle you went through to get your four girls to look nice for church.
I wonder when you first felt that dark sadness, the one that fell on you like a shadow from your father.
I wonder how you learned to let your rage out and speak your opinions, instead of being polite like your sisters and brothers.
I wonder who gave you permission to be yourself. Was it Dad? Was it the ’60s? Was it the voices from all the many books you read? Or did you just listen to yourself and to that other drummer, whatever the beat was?
I wonder whether you knew how much your friends and relatives respected you for that. They still tell me that when I see them.
Oh, how I would love to be able to just pick up the phone and call you.
You gave me a great gift. You always told me that you’d had a good life, and that no one should be sorry when you were gone.
I hear you laughing in the wind chimes, dancing across the mountains, telling stories with the phoebes and herons.
That last time we talked, you were really sick. And you said, “The days take so long to go by.”
It seemed such an awful thought to me; for in my life a day is never, ever long enough. “That makes me sad to hear you say, Mom.”
And you said, in your sweetest Mom voice, “Oh, don’t be sad, honey. Just enjoy your life.”
Possibly the best advice you ever gave me.
No candles today. Your breath is the wind now.
Be born again.
Oct. 29, 2007: Margaret Rose