Happy birthday, Mom

My mother once told me that she thinks of her late father “every single day.”

I don’t remember precisely when Mom said that; I think I was a teenager, which means that like most pearls of wisdom I got from Mom or Dad, it went in ear and out the other.

She lost her father in January 1950. He was in early 60s. Mom was not quite 27 when my grandfather died. Mom was 61 when she died in 1984 and I was not quite 34 years of age when I lost her. So there’s a certain symmetry, I suppose, between those two events.

But now that I am a whole lot older and perhaps a bit wiser (although that’s surely a debatable point) I understand more fully Mom’s notion that she thought of her father daily even all those years after his passing.

It’s been nearly 36 years since Mom died. Today she would have turned 97 years of age.

I think of her every single day. It’s usually a fleeting thought. I might conjure up a quip she would offer. For example, our older son was visiting us recently. We were chatting about the space program. I told my son that his grandmother hated the name “Cape Canaveral,” the place where NASA launches rocket ships, because it sounded like “Cape Cadaver.” We had a nice laugh over that gem from my son’s grandmother. She had a million of ’em.

I have thought often about how Mom would have grown old. I believe in my heart she would have done so with grace and good humor had she not been robbed of her essence by the killer disease known as Alzheimer’s. I no longer dwell on it. Time has soothed much of the pain of losing her. But not all of it.

I think of her daily. Today I want to wish her a happy birthday and to tell her: Mom, I now understand why the memory of those you love never leaves you.

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