Today is my mother’s birthday. She is not here, but has gone on ahead to some place where I imagine she can eat all the bowls of ice cream and popcorn she wants, without having to put down her book, even. Knowing her, she’s been playing Christmas music for a month already (Johnny Mathis, Singers Unlimited) and is dancing around the room to it. Maybe she’s finally polished “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” on the piano which, along with “The Impossible Dream” makes up her entire piano repertoire since she never had lessons and taught the two songs to herself by ear.
I miss you, Mom. Dad’s new wife was probably hand-picked by you and is a fabulous, fabulous grandmother to my kids and friend to me. But I still remember your smell and I think of it when I am sick, staring up at the ceiling in bed yet again. I don’t know what kind of relationship we would have now, but I like to think that we would be friends, having forgiven each other of all of our clumsinesses those first twenty years, having both realized that we were both doing the best we could.
The thing I want you to know today is that when I picture you, I picture you enjoying things. Enjoying that piano, that good book, that Christmas music. I picture you full of joy. You taught me that, Mom. Life—not just this life, but all existence--is for joy. And, when all is said and done, what better definition of a successful mother could there be than one who has taught her children that?
I love you, Mom. You did a good job. Happy birthday.