Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Remembering my mother

Today would have been my mother’s 98th birthday. Well, technically, it still is, since birthdays are anniversaries of birth, but when someone dies, we tend to speak of everything about them in the past tense. Or, maybe that’s just me.

I think of my mother every year at this time, and primarily because of the way she felt about her birthday. I talked about that back in 2008:
My mother always complained about having a birthday so close to Christmas. When she was a little girl, her relatives would say to her, “Instead of getting you two small presents, we’ll get you one big one.” She thought that was a fraud. “I knew that if my birthday was any other time of the year, I’d get TWO big presents,” she told me. Even as a kid, with no money of my own, I tried to make sure I got her two presents.
She was a tremendous influence on my life, as I talked about last year. And yet, it’s been so long since she died that I can go for a long time without ever thinking about her or my father, who died a few months before her.

Well, that always used to be the case.

As I get older, I find that that I think of them more often. Sometimes it’s when I speak and hear my dad, or maybe I suddenly remember a phrase my mother used. Often, it’s nothing in particular.

I suppose that some of this is could be part of a nostalgia I feel as I grow older. In recent years I’ve reconnected on Facebook with friends from high school and from my activist years in Chicago. So, it’d be natural to think of my parents, too.

But it is the way my mother felt about her birthday that is mainly what keeps the date in my mind. Adults can never know which of the things they say to children will become firmly planted, and long remembered, but, for me, this was one such thing my mother managed to lodge in my brain.

The photo with this post is of my mother, one of the last I ever took of her. I took it in late 1979 or early 1980, a few months before she died. She’d finished her radiation therapy and I’d taken her to the hairdresser so she would feel better about herself. This photo is a copy of an enlargement I had made after she died. I took the original with an Instamatic camera, and made the copy with a modern digital camera—bridging the decades, in a way.

Happy Birthday, Mom.

Tears of a clown
– one of my favourite posts about my mother

Previous years’ birthday posts:
Mom’s birthday (2013)
Mom’s treasure (2012)
Remembering birthdays (2011)
That time of year (2009)
Memories and words (2008)


rogerogreen said...

I've pretty much decided that I'm going to write about my parents twice a year in my blog. Already wrote a post for February 2, the anniversary of my mom's death. Yes, you do think more on them as you get older. Of course, you've been an orphan adult a lot longer than I. And your parents were older than mine by about a decade.

Arthur (AmeriNZ) said...

My parents were the oldest among all my friends parents, which is probably a topic in itself. I'm probably moving to two posts a year, too, with different focuses.