Today is my beautiful mother’s birthday. She is mumblety years old, and looks about half that, which is sometimes very annoying. She has the kind of perfect pure white hair that you are forced to describe as “snowy,” the kind that you wish you will have when your hair starts to change. It is the kind of beautiful color that makes the idea of ever even considering “hiding the grey” seem like a terrible abomination.
Everyone says my mother and I look so alike, but she’s got blue eyes and cheekbones that make me grumble, because why couldn’t I have gotten them? And her nose, too? She’s got a perfect nose. Instead we share the small mouth and the little knob of a chin, the body shape that runs up and down through the line of women in our family–if you got us all in a row, every woman in our family, you could see, in a casual glance, that we are related. That used to be something that bothered me–you can tell that I’m a part of this insane family! You can tell that she is my mother! But I get older, and my mother gets cooler. Or I get older, and far, far smarter than I used to be, because I am proud that she is my mother.
She is so smart, and she is creative. She is a hell of a writer, and can draw, too. She is so clever with her hands–her crochet is absolutely, terrifyingly precise, each stitch perfect, the perfect gauge, exactly like the one before it and exactly like the one that will come after it. Her handwriting is copperplate to the point where it looks unreal, beautiful, uniform, looping and clear. She is organized, careful with her money, thrifty, smart, and forward-thinking. And mostly importantly, my mother is very tough, and she is very brave–when my father died, we stayed in Pennsylvania and she raised us, little shits both, and she did it alone.
Whenever my mother has left a job, they’ve had to hire two people, sometimes three, to replace her. She is a whirlwind of responsibility and activity, of productivity and encouragement. People go to her for her advice and her support, to be listened to, because my mother is a good listener. People trust my mother, because she is one of the most rock-solid and faithful people you will ever know. If my mother and her huge and beautiful heart is on your side, she will always be on your side, forever and ever amen. You are one of the luckiest people in the world, if she is on your side. My mother has always been on my side, and I have not always appreciated it. I am grateful and thankful that I have figured out how lucky I am. I am grateful and thankful that I have finally reached that point where I am smart enough and old enough to know my mother as a person, to love and appreciate her not for what she’s done for me (so much) or who she is to me (a mother I am lucky to have) but as a good, kind, loving, beautiful person in her own right, on her own terms.
She is hilarious, and silly, and generous. She loves sci-fi and fantasy and to dance. She is a terrible singer, but has never let that stop her from singing. She is outgoing, positive, friendly, a force of nature, someone that people is drawn to. She’s a little nuts and totally dopey and despite the fact that I have, early and often, been a rotten, neglectful daughter, she always forgives me and I get to keep her.
I love you, ma. Thank you. And happy happiest of birthdays.