Thursday, November 10, 2016

A Birthday...

My mother would be seventy-eight today if she was still living. She died at fifty-nine of lung cancer. I cannot think of another individual on this planet with whom I have had as complicated a relationship, nor anyone whose mention stirs a wealth of sadness, anger and devotion.

I would not be here without her but was not always sure that my presence in her life was desired, particularly in the face of our growing differences as I became an adult. While she  may have equated some of these with her idea of rebellion, they have remained with me throughout my life and were never a matter of wanting to rankle or displease. It can be difficult cultivating a spirit, personality or worldview in the face of its opposite, particularly when your own experiences of living have been very different to those of your mother.

What she would think about the world today I can only guess. As her only living child, I   wish she had made it to old age or taken the chance to make some better choices on her own behalf at earlier points in life. Doing so may have made her a happier person though many people would never know the profound difference between her public life-of-the-party persona and the person she often became behind closed doors.

Now in my late fifties, I sometimes hear her echoed in thoughts, mannerisms, an unerring desire for fairness and my own lack of patience. My love of animals, books, reading and travel were spawned through watching her as a youngster and being given access to all of those things. More reserved and quieter by nature than she, I am also slower to anger and more likely to draw inward than to lash out. Politically and socially, she and I were poles apart as I embraced ideas and activism which were foreign to her and still do.

 In honor of her birthday, I have done a variety of things over the years, from donating to literacy organizations to growing out and donating my hair for kids and others affected by cancer or other illnesses. This year, I am donating to a bird sanctuary.

Happy Birthday, Sarah...

November 10, 1938-July 21, 1998


11 comments:

Steve Reed said...

Happy birthday to your mom. It's strange, as we get older, to look back on the ages our parents were at certain times in their lives -- and realize that we're now older than they were then. (If that makes sense.)

Jenny Woolf said...

It is very good that you remember your birthday. Things can be very complicated but it is reassuring isn't it, to know that no matter what, the bonds remain with the person who gave you life. It's a nice idea to donate on her birthday, I'll consider that too.

Martha said...

Happy birthday to your mom. Relationships with parents are oftentimes very complicated.

HBF said...

Happy birthday to her and very nice of you to donate like that, that's a good idea that I may use someday.

Elephant's Child said...

I like (love) the ways you have chosen to remember her.
I too had a very complicated relationship with my mother. She was the person I wanted to become. She became a person I strive diligently NOT to become. And I owe her a lot - both in wonderful examples and their opposite.

e said...

Isn't it interesting how the people who teach us how Not to be are often more important than those whom we would seek to emulate? I owe my mother in both respects, too.

e said...

I am not yet the age she was when she died but yes, I see that...

e said...

Thanks!

e said...

Without a doubt. Thanks for visiting!

e said...

I find that thinking about where and how to do that offers me the chance to honor her memory very intentionally and I often learn by doing that. I hope you're having a good day.

Linda said...

Happy Birthday to your mom, and I totally comprehend, because I also had a complicated relationship with my mother, and often found myself wondering if she was really happy with me, because it seemed like no matter what I did she wasn't. Sending you warm hugs and much love.