Day (-12,034) – My Mother’s Birth Day

Just shy of her 33rd birthday, 12,034 days into her own life, my mom gave birth to me. Gave life to me. Brought me to this world. I was her 4th child, and she and my father had two more after me.

Earlier this week, she celebrated her 89th birthday. That’s over 32,500 days of making a difference. She made a difference to us, of course. She made a difference to her two husbands, both of whom she helped through the final days of their lives. She worked tirelessly as a volunteer at a local hospital, and in helping seniors with all the confusion of Medicare and social service issues. She makes a difference still to her friends and family.

She’s seen a lot, of course, as you would expect someone of her life experience. And she brought a lot to each member of the family.

At my daughter's wedding, August 2003

Of all the things I could remember, I think one of the most important is this. As we were growing into adulthood, each in our own way, she and dad gave us the freedom to do it in our own unique ways. There were no two consistent paths, there were six unique journeys. And we each got the love and support we needed with little or no judgement. When one of her friends asked her how she could let us take jobs in other cities, or travel away from Cleveland, she simply responded “How could I not?”. She raised us to be capable, respectful, independent people. And she succeeded.

When my father made the decision to stop drinking, there were many people who assured him that he had no problem and that he didn’t need to follow that path. But he did, and I was at home the day after he entered the hospital. I helped mom prepare the house for his eventual return. I called my siblings to let them know what was going on. Just like me, they were a little surprised and confused, as not a one of us considered that he needed to do this. But what I learned about my mother in that weekend – I learned that when you love someone, when you commit to them, you give them yourself at all costs. She handled it. She dealt with it. She helped the bridge club and the poker club understand that he didn’t want people to treat him differently or change their habits. She was amazing. Strength. Love. Perseverance. Family.

Happy Mother’s Day Mom. Thank you for the countless lessons, and the continuous examples of love and strength shown through the years. I know I speak for all of us when I say thank you for giving us our chance. For guiding us along the way. For knowing when to let go, and for caring each and every day.

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