Some of us approach birthdays with trepidation, others with a sense of joy, and some people really don’t think about being another year old.
My mother used to be in the first category, especially in the last two decades. Her image of youth and trying to maintain it seemed to be constantly on her mind. She took a glamor shot at 72 years old and at the time, we (her kids) rolled our eyes. Now I think, damn, I hope I can look that good.
Mom used to see her friends at work, after work, and at community functions. She marched with farmworkers, participated in strikes, rallied for parks in the neighborhood, and was in more civil rights organizations than I can remember. Sunday visits to relatives, birthday parties, wedding’s and baptisms filled the weekends.
I’ve called her my “Hurricane Mother,” in previous posts.
Now her brothers and sisters have passed on. She can’t drive. When she sees friends it’s at funerals and that number is dwindling because the friend is ‘in’ the funeral.
This reality bites. She’s been known to misquote Bette Davis:
“Old Age Ain’t For Sissies,” by saying ‘old age is a bitch,” pardon her french.
She’s mellowed out now and finds joy in most situations. She loves to have a good time, a great Bloody Mary, a cold Corona, or a moist chunk of chocolate cake. And two out of three is even better.
On Mother’s Day, she gathered us and the grandkids around the table in the backyard to talk about her upcoming birthday. “If you planned to give me a party, don’t. I have everything I need or want and I’ve been blessed more than I can say…”
She then told us a story about a young mother in our county who was burned in a horrible attack which left her with medical bills, without a job, and who is now struggling to keep her apartment.
Anything you were going to get me, give to her. Donate the money to her and her four children.
We were momentarily stunned. She loves parties and gifts. But then again, she loves helping people and that’s what she’s done all of her life.
I found the newspaper article on the victim and found out her husband committed the crime. He doused her with gasoline and lit a match. The evilness of this act can only be surpassed by the compassion of other people and by the mother and children surviving and thriving.
This is the link to the GoFundMe campaign set up by two women in the victim’s community.
I think this is an important part of celebrating another year. To pass on joy to others, to contribute to happiness, and to create family memories.