Thursday, May 20, 2010

This Special Day

This special day, as my middle sister, LD, put it, is our mother's 80th birthday, and in honor of it, I thought I'd share the round robin of emails my siblings and I have exchanged today:

So here we are, at Mom's 80th birthday, and we might be having a big party in Pullman (RE would be going crazy), and invite her old friends (OK, she has none, but at least people from Simpson), but our mom is a shell. No phone calls, no cards, no flowers, no presents. No toasts, no reminiscences, no thank-yous for whatever she's given us. Just nothing. That's a very weird thing. (I have to admit, I thought about sending something, just to show her family does think of her, but I know it would only be to make a show to the staff, which seems kind of an empty gesture. If they think I don't care, let them.)

Happy Birthday, Mom! Your body made it to 80! I hope it doesn't make it much longer...

Weird is the word. I too have had Mom and all of you in my thoughts this week more than normal. But what to do to commemorate this day we frankly had hoped wouldn't come (at least for the past 6 mo). In that trite thought - we all have some of Mom in us, so she lives on. But she didn't have life for 80 years, so there's not much to celebrate. So maybe the best thing is to remember her from years ago, and be thankful for what she gave us. And be thankful for the children she raised. I know I am blessed to have each of you in my life. Many people I know don't have the good relationship with their siblings that we do. I am always thankful for the family I was put into and for the parents that raised us. Not perfectly, but the results are excellent.

Happy Birthday, Mom! Your body made it to 80! I wish your mind had...

I think you're right, R, we are really lucky to have each other and to still be significant in each other's lives. That's such a boon! And you're right, lots of adults I know don't have that. That's definitely worth being thankful for. Whatever Mom's contribution was to what we are today, I am grateful for it. I've always felt I had a charmed childhood compared to so many people I know, so I have to think Mom and Dad had something to do with it!!
Love to all of you,

Yes, I agree. To all of the above. I've been thinking about it--her birthday-- pondering how one celebrates such a day with someone who isn't even there, though she still breathes and has a beating heart. And I am willing, able to see that the best of Mom is what we carry with us, what we've carried from the life she (and Dad) gave us, the genes she (and Dad) gave us, the growing up she (and Dad) gave us. I'm also realistic enough to admit that there are some parts of her I carry that I'd just as soon not: all those deep sighs, I do that. Why the heck do I do that? And the drama, I definitely have that, though I think it's in a diluted form.
But it's been really getting to me lately, the tragedy of this life still being lived that, for all intents and purposes, is past tense, that there are no questions yet to ask her about that life, no stories still to uncover, nothing, nothing, nothing. So, R, you're absolutely right. What we have of her is exactly what we have of Dad--each other. And, like you, I'm glad it's enough. No, I'm glad it's an abundance. So, perhaps on this day, we should thank that her (and Dad in exactly the same way) that they chose to have all of us. I love you all on this day.
PS. you know, of course, I'm going to have to 'borrow' these.

I am going up to be with her in a bit, just sit with her a while, whether she knows or cares, she deserves our presence, if just to acknowledge what we have and where we came from. I’ll take some knitting and sit, try to tell her about all your thoughts and thankfulness. That we’re sorry for this and Happy Birthday.

I too, am thankful for all … Love and hugs, RE

Hey sibs,

I'm with LD, I'd have sent something, but I didn't. But I didn't get as far down the line of reasoning that she did, I don't think it would have had any impact on her if I would have. And that's terrible. One of the things I learned from her (and Dad) is that the gesture of giving is more about the giving end than the receiving end. That the reacting to the need to respond and responding is more important than the response it causes.

T's birthday is today. He is 16 and 6 months away from driving. I've not been pre-occupied, but have just thought that my efforts would be wasted on Mom's empty shell. Thank God He sent His son for our empty shells.

I miss you all, on days like today more than others. My closest people are the farthest away, and I feel like I lose track of the man they raised.

Thinking of you all, with all my love,

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