Updated to add – and again in 2021.
This was a Facebook post I originally wrote for my mother in 2017 on her birthday. It seems fitting to share again and add to my blog on Mother’s Day.
She grew up under difficult circumstances. The childhood and adolescence she had had in the fifties and sixties was not the one you see on the “good old days” media portrayal of life in middle America. She was a caretaker from the beginning, a child with responsibilities many adults would find difficult to bear.
She married and had two children and was a stay at home parent in the seventies and early eighties. Driving the children to and from school, attending the PTO meetings and class parties, managing the household, she was the mother that every child would hope to have. Her husband worked hard and they both sacrificed for their children to have what they needed. Financially things were tight many years, although her children didn’t really know that. All they knew was Mama would be there (although it was probably Daddy that made the cookies for that class party).
The late eighties brought about dramatic change. She lost her mother, the family made a move, and she made a decision to return to college, getting her degree in special education. Working, going to school, continuing to be a wife a mother, she was an inspiration to her teenage daughter, even though it might not have seemed so at the time.
Relationships are hard and hers with her daughter were no exception. They were often at odds with the way they saw the world, their opinions and the way they communicated. But her daughter always valued her opinion and needed her viewpoint – and often her absolution. Decisions were made that strained their relationship for some time, but when that daughter knocked on her door close to midnight one night in May of 1996, she answered and welcome her back with open arms.
The year 2000 brought the arrival of the first grandchild and she embraced the role of grandmother. Four more soon followed and she attended every birthday party, every concert, every Grandparent’s Day, every school play, and cheered them on without exception. She continues to do so to this day; her grandchildren are her heart and she loves them unconditionally.
She has had problems with her health for many years now. Struggling with autoimmune disease that is still often not understood by those in the medical world, much less the general public, she doesn’t let others see her pain and her problems. She doesn’t want to inconvenience anyone or elicit sympathy. When her only daughter was diagnosed with cancer in 2012, she dropped everything to be a nurse, a maid, a chauffeur, and a pillar of strength and support for not only her, but everyone around her. A daughter herself, she was also the primary caregiver of her own father during the final years of his life. A long goodbye was had over many years of nursing home visits and hospitalization which emotionally and physically took a toll on her that others often did not see.
Life continues to move forward at a frenetic pace. Her children are in their forties now, her grandchildren teenagers. Although she is close with her family, her children are busy, the grandkids are busy. Oftentimes school pickup times and texts are the only communication she has with them for days at a time. Only in times of reflection does her daughter really stop to think about how much she appreciates and loves her and how truly blessed she is to have her mother in her life. So she hopes that when her mother reads this, she will know how much she loves her, how much she admires her, how much she appreciates her, and how much she hopes that she will have a very happy birthday today.