Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Memories and words

Every year around now, I think of my mother, who was born this time of year. She would’ve turned 92, though she died the better part of thirty years ago. It’s been so long, in fact, that I can go a long time without being able to remember the last time I thought of her.

And then this time of year rolls around again.

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.

I’ve lived more of my life without her than I had with her. I passed that milestone a few years ago, the year I reached the age my parents were when I was born. It was kind of a sobering thought at the time.

I wish I was able to write something really special to commemorate her day, but the truth is, I haven’t been able to. In 2006, I couldn’t think of what to say, and last year I had my trip to the US. Actually, that’s been true, to varying degrees, for years, and I’m sure part of it is the number of years since she died.

So instead, I’ll just say the obvious, “Happy Birthday, Mom.” I still think of her around her birthday every year, I think of her two presents and I wish that I had just one more chance to give them to her. That’s the way life goes, and sometimes there just aren’t any words.


Jason in DC said...

I can remember something that was great about your mom: her sense of humor.

I still use the line she used when we were growing up. When someone would sort of imply that somehow she was getting old and that she had lived a long time.

Yes she would say it was sometime after fire but before the wheel.

It makes me smile ever time I say it.

Roger Owen Green said...

You never forget. I think about my dad when I see LG written on Lydia's stuff. (His name was Les.)

Arthur Schenck said...

Jason: Thanks for sharing the memory. I think I'll be having more opportunities to use it from now on...

Roger: You're right, you don't forget. Initials have sparked memories for me sometimes, but more often than not it's other things. But what I sometimes still find alarming is when I say something my parents would have said, and lately I find myself standing, of all things, like my dad did. Maybe we really do become our parents—hopefull in only the good ways!

d said...

I think just writing this post in general is really special. :)

And she was right - one big present is definitely a fraud!