When I was nearing my 27th birthday, I wanted to have my horoscope done, officially. There was no record of the time I was born on my birth certificate (crazy, hunh?) so I asked my mom, "what time was I born?" And she couldn't remember. She thought about it, she hhhmmmmed and ruminated, and just couldn't remember and I was aghast! I was turning 27 on the 27th and I thought it a particularly auspicious birthday and I wanted my horoscope done! I kept saying things like You don't remember when I was born? How could you not know that?
Keep in mind, gentle reader, that I was thinking like a self-absorbed twenty-something, not realizing that having a baby in the mid-sixties, for many mamas in this country, meant being knocked completely unconscious, waking up hours later with your little bundle of joy squirreled away while you "recover". So really, how could she know? But I digress. For my birthday that year, she wrote me the most incredible letter, she told me the story of the life of our family as they prepared for my arrival. She told me about the colors of the walls, the decorations she was putting up, just for me, about being so excited to meet me, about nursing me for a good start in life. She told the story of the little details of what she did in the days leading up to my arrival, all in anticipation of me.
So I'd like to spend a moment in honor of my mama, the woman who, 43 years ago on August 27, welcomed me into the world.
what I remember her saying more than anything:
They're welcome as the flowers!
The more the merrier!
There's always plenty!
We'd love to!
What a wonderful idea!
Don't you want to have a party?
How about a slumber party?
Let's make homemade cards/invitations/thank you notes!
Of course you can do that!
Well, let's see, I don't see why not!
Let's go shopping!
*towels from the dryer to welcome us into the freezing inside of our house from the pool because my dad kept the a.c. at like, 65 degrees.
*fireworks at Friendship Park
*jumping in the car and going to the - beach, museum, Treaty Oak, park, where-ever was funner than where we were
*playing cards crazy eights and spades and spit and go fish for hours on end
*playing majhong, with real vintage ivory tiles
*letter-shaped pancakes, cat-shaped pancakes, on the electric griddle
*shaving cream for us to have shaving cream fights with in the back yard and pool
*swimming late at night
*treats, treats, treats!
*early birthday gifts, letters in the mail, and presents on my pillow
*being awoken with gentle words, good morning sweet Amy (that is my first name, ya know, Connor is my middle), as she rubbed my back gently to awaken me slowly and sweetly
When she was my brownie leader, she and mamaw (her mom) did this sensory event with us. My mom had these little funky colored glass jars filled with spices that sat on the counter top. She and mamaw blindfolded us and had us try to guess the scents. I remember cinnamon, orange zest, sage and thyme. There may have been others, and those may not be correct, but that is how I remember it.
One time when all of us, Anthony and Jeanna and I, had been at mamaw and pappaw's for a few weeks, mom and Aunt Sis redid our room from head to toe, completely and fabulously, with wallpaper accents, matching vanity tables for Jeanna and I with little yellow gingham awnings over each, and details that escape me today, but it was a magical wonder world of a little girl's room.
I can remember, specific times, that I would yell for my mom from across the big ol' rambling ranch house I grew up in, yelling for mom, and she would come saying yes? and I'd say, could you turn on/off the light? or could you get my jack ball? or some such silliness, and she would always laugh and do it lovingly. Jeanna and I would both do that, it was more like a fun game than just us being lazy bones.
Recently, as Fay passed by, my memories were of when we were little and some such tropical storm was passing or a hurricane was near, and my mom loaded us into the car to go watch the waves on the St. Johns river in San Marco. I remember the waves crashing over the wall of the bulkhead and I remember the wind whipping our hair and I remember my mom and how exhilarating the whole thing was.
I remember one chilly winter, my mom pulled out the hide-a-bed in the living room and built a fire and we all got cozy together and stayed warm and slept together. I don't know if we didn't have electricity or if mom just wanted to have a fun and different experience, but I remember how fun and novel it was, how if felt "old-timey" and like for a second we lived somewhere other than Florida.
thoughts on honesty:
There were two events that inform me even today when it comes to honesty. I remember being involved in an unsavory behavior (we'll leave it at that) and telling my mom some story to cover the result. Both times she said to me, well, if that's what you want to tell me, ok. But I want you to know that the door is open for you to tell me the truth. And I remember her telling me that with such sincerity, not as a set up to bust me, but just to let me know that she was available for the truth without her freaking out on me, that I was able to be honest on both occasions. Yes, there were reasonable consequences, but it was a trust building experience, not trust-dashing.
There are so many little memories that occur to me, as I parent my children, as I remember things in the day to day, as words I heard as a child come out of my mouth, as I experience the love and that joy is parenthood I realize that my mother walked this path before me, she had all those little moments, and it is because of her that I get to be here today.
As a mama today, I realize I cannot even begin to put into words the love and gratitude I feel, the joy that floods my heart as I watch my mama with my children, and all I can say is:
Happy Birthday, on my Birthday, mama, and thank you for it all