That is so hard to really envision, isn't it? Ninety one years of living, loving, hurting, smiling, crying, hating and forgiving. Born in Kentucky, mostly raised in Ohio and moving with her family to Michigan around 1953 where she would have no support after having all of her family and Dad's family within a few minutes of her home all of her life. A 31 year old woman with her husband and three kids moved over 7 hours away from their families. Add to that some instability in the marriage and you begin to see what a giant step this was for her. She gambled and she fought for many years through trials and tribulations to finally around 1965 or thereabouts, find herself in a fairly good situation. Her children all raised, for the most part. Her husband 100% in the marriage and some stability finally. It was over 10 years of struggle and she would only have about 13 years of the sober and loving life before he passed and she was left alone to carry on.
|Graduation day June 1967 Mom, me and Dad|
They were the same age, 56, when he passed. She was not prepared. She was not an independent woman. The checkbook had been his territory. The bills, the income, the taxes and all things other than running her home, were his territory. In 1978, they became her territory with a mere few weeks to prepare. No, not true. The few weeks were spent at the hospital, hoping and assuming he would get well. So there really was no preparation time, though she did apparently pay the bills as they came in as we found no overdue notices when I went to help her get set up following the funeral. It was very difficult. But as with all things to follow, she did what she needed to do and was more than capable, though she was nervous. In the following few years she developed into a very independent and very strong woman. I have not really worried about her until very recently and that might be because I am more involved in her day to day life now and I see the years taking their toll.
Now, don't misunderstand. She lives alone in her beautiful 2 bedroom 900+ square foot apartment and does most of her cleaning. I clean the high up things so she doesn't climb. My choice. She prepares her own meals, though I think she should be eating more. She goes down a flight of stairs everyday to get her mail and takes her garbage to the dumpster by walking across the parking lot and two driveways to do so. She is amazingly capable and amazingly willing to do what she is physically capable of doing. I love this about her. I love that she doesn't want help, but allows me to do what she simply can't safely do. She no longer drives so I taxi her where she needs or wants to be. She doesn't take advantage of that and in fact, won't even ask to go anyplace. I have to ask if she would like to go, is there any place she has been wanting to go, anything she needs that I haven't thought of and that is really the hardest thing. Intuition is a good tool and
not really my strongest asset, though, I am always trying.
|Momma (brown) and her neighbors in her apartment on her birthday in 2011|
Our momma will be 91 years old and we still have her everyday in our lives. What a blessed family she has raised. What a good life she has now. We will celebrate IN her presence and IN her own home. I am aware how rare this is and I am so happy every time I think of what she has added to my life in the last few years since moving here. It's been 4 years next month that she has lived within 2 miles of me and that I have been her taxi and her lifeline to the outside world. It is heavy sometimes, but it's a blessing most times. Much like the years she was raising her children without a lot of help from our dad, it's tough some days and heavenly some days.
|Last year's birthday at my house.|
Birthdays...days to reflect. Days to be grateful and days to celebrate life to that point and dream of the ones to come. On her birthday I dare not dream too far ahead, but I love looking back with her and remembering anything she wants to remember. Her stories will fill a book one day and what they lack in accuracy, they will make up for with the knowledge that the stories I have and am still compiling are from her mouth to my ears and then my note pad. Her words, her life as she has chosen to recall it. I am good with that.
Happy birthday, Momma.