Mom would've been 78 today. 78. While I wish we had her longer, I'm not entirely sure she'd be an easy 78, which is the gateway to 79....80....
Mom wasn't easy in her early seventies. I have to believe that we had her for her very best years and now she's kicking back watching us from above and all around just tickled by the accomplishments and growth of her kids and grandkids. For the grandkids I'd wish for another twenty years. One hundred would've suited her just fine. To them, she'd be ageless and easy and fun, talking Heat and Dolphins while serving matzah ball soup and asking about school. For us, it might have been, well, challenging.
If mom were here today, I'd tell her this: everything I am is either because of your great strengths or because of your great weaknesses. Mom did it alone at times and the odds were stacked against her. 4/4 of her kids graduated college, have careers, are respected in the community, are deemed loving parents, aunts, uncles, spouses, and are considered genuinely good people. Good job, Mom.
I feel Mom's presence in everything I do. WWMD? What would mom do? I can't lie. Sometimes I know the answer and I act. Other times I know the answer and I do the exact opposite. That's how she taught us. In her death I won't memorialize her perfections because there were many imperfections. And I learned as much from those as the former. Being less than perfect makes her legacy easy to continue. Mom was human and if more of us embraced that position, the world would be a better place.
Mom's greatest quality (and weakness) was her selflessness. Today as I reflect on her memory and her life, I am certain of a few things: Mom taught me to be independent, she taught me to be be self-sufficient, and she taught me to be resilient. In ways, she prepared me for life without her. But I will never fully embrace being unable to share the lives of my children with her. Selfishly, I could say I want her back, but if it were a choice, it would be more for them than for me.
Like most grandparents, she probably enjoyed her grandkids better than her first kids. That's always been the heart of mom. It's her lasting gift to me...today...on her birthday...the selflessness that comes from knowing the most basic form of love.
Today I will think about Mom and her smile and her silly nuances. I will look for butterflies, though I know they'll find me. They always do. I will remember Mom with love in my heart. I will be grateful that she is no longer suffering. I will always believe that she's in a better place watching, guiding, and steering. I will connect with my siblings like we always do on days like today, but in a way that would make her beam with pride. And when I feel her presence wrap around me, for even just one second, then she can blow out her candles, knowing all of her wishes have come true. You've done your job, Mom. And what a great one.
Happy Birthday Rootie B.