I turned fifty last week, a milestone for most women, as is any decade birthday, and I’ve basically been celebrating all month long. But I crashed last Friday when my thoughts turned to the fact that this was the first birthday I had without my mother. I have a series of upcoming blogs about all the fun of “Pamelatober,” but before I can get to that happy stuff, I feel a need to work through this particular nugget. I think it’s part of my grief in looking forward and living life without my biggest, most ardent supporter.
This time last year, I visited Mama in the nursing home. She didn’t remember that it was my birthday, but when I told her it was, she quickly put on a smile and sang a little “Happy Birthday to you. . .” and held my hand from her wheelchair. “My Baby. . .” is what she called me for the rest of her life. I don’t remember the last time she called me Pamela. I knew then she was slipping away from me.
I’ll blame Mama for all the build-up I place on birthdays. For as long as I can recall, she made a big deal of our natal days. They would begin with our bedroom doors flying open and continue with hugs and kisses, declarations of love, and wishes for good luck, store-bought cakes with candles, and some kind of gift. It was a celebration of the day you came into the world and into her life; Mama was the best at making you feel like it was Your Day. Later on, attention to your astrological sign and horoscope were given credence because she thought it told you something deeper about yourself: the universe’s opinion of where you fit in and explanation of your personality traits. But, that dips into hippie/new-age Thelma, and that’s a story for another time.
It’s been seven months since she’s passed. I’ve kept just busy enough. . . until recently. I miss her more than I ever thought possible. The little things like curling her super-fine and barely-gray hair. And the big things, like the way her face would light up when she would see me walk toward her, perched near the nurse’s station. And I remember years before, the sadness she talked about when her mother passed away.
I’m cut from the cloth of “birthdays are a big deal.” Not everyone gets it, but it’s what I know because it’s what my Mama did. And it’s what I try to do for my children. It’s yet another demonstration of love.
Below is a re-post of a home movie from my 3rd birthday. I’m the one with a yellow & orange outfit and birthday crown 😉 And, in true Thelma-fashion, dancing my way through the party. Thank you, Mama. I’ve had a happy birthday month!