Dear Mom, Happy Birthday today. If you were still physically here, you would be 101 years old! I am glad you are with me at least in spirit.
I see you often. I hear your words. I talk with you daily … usually apologizing to you for things I didn’t understand when I was younger.
You were born the youngest into a big family of ten children (5 boys, 5 girls alternating). Growing up in Washington D.C. just a few blocks from the Capitol building, you always had a uniquely personal perspective on history. In the summer you got to go swimming in the public pool at the base of the Washington Monument (and in the adult only swim times you and your youngest siblings would see how fast you could race to the top of the monument to look out the windows up so high!). In the winter when it snowed you would go sledding down the steep steps of the capitol building! As a high school student you used the Library of Congress as your own research facility. You knew and loved the city intimately.
The Spanish-American War and the World War 1 brought change to the city with many “lost” soldiers hanging around using drugs and drink, legal or not, to lessen their pains both physical and mental. They were all over and you were often warned to “stay away”. The outbreak of the Influenza of 1918 was tough. Many houses had yellow or black “death” signs on their doors. You lost a friend your age who died from it. She lived across the street. All of these things influenced greatly who you grew up to be.
Thankfully your brothers helped you get to go to college. You went to American University as an adult student in your late 20’s and majored in the relatively new field of Sociology.
All of these early experiences helped shape you as a wife, mother and woman. I am glad to have been your youngest child. I am glad you shared so much with me. Not always would I have said these words though. As a youngster I thought you just didn’t understand me at all. Now I think you probably understood me all too well. As a teenager I knew you just didn’t understand anything about me or my life. As a young mother I wished you would love me and know that I was going crazy and needed your help. You heard me. You came over to Germany with Dad three times that first year. That was very brave of you as you had never flown anywhere before then. You came. Thank you.
When you first came to Germany you quickly bonded with my landlady. You and dad cleaned up our apartment as I took care of my new son and my husband worked many 12+ hour days in the USAF. This was all great as the next time you came it was with me calling and asking you to come quickly because I had just had emergency surgery and needed your help to take care of me and the baby. He was just 10 weeks old. I couldn’t even pick him up. The third time was just after I had surgery again. At least this time was planned in advance and you got to see your grandsons first birthday. I learned from you and dad that parenting doesn’t magically stop when your children reach 18. You were still helping all of us for years.
I learned compassion as I sat and visited with you as you lived the past over in your mind. Alzheimer’s is a tough disease. It robbed years of your life from us. The last 4 years you knew no one and nothing except for momentary lapses of clarity. In one you asked me if Dad and your recent friend, Roy, would both be there in Heaven to greet you?
Do you now have the answers to your questions about Heaven and God? I am betting that you do. I am sure that you are now with your grandparents, parents, siblings and their families, as well as with Dad and Roy.
Thank you for teaching me to be the woman I am today. When I look into my mirror I see a reflection that reminds me of you. As I speak to my sons and daughters I hear your words echoing from my mouth. How this all makes me laugh!
This post is my response to a Challenge from from the Daily Post at WordPress.