To say she had a good life would be a lie. To say much of her life was difficult would be a true statement. One day I will try to write the story that tells of her struggles, her pain and her triumphs. I will write of her happiest days as she told me the stories and of some of the wonderful people she recalled as well as some of the people who caused her much suffering. It's a difficult story to even think of now that she's gone. But I am determined to attempt it one day.
We celebrated both Mom and Dad's birthdays with them every year.
Today, though, I'd like to concentrate on the birthdays we've celebrated with her since Dad's passing 36 years ago, next week. He died one week after her 56th birthday. That year the birthday was celebrated in his hospital room. I took cake, a wrapped gift and we all laughed and ate and joked about the nightie I bought her. Dad said he'd be able to see through it when she changed the TV channel. She blushed, I believe, and told us all to stop! Since he never came home, I learned about 20 years ago, she never took that nightie out of the box. It had remained in the box with tissue until she gave it to me. She wanted me to give it to her granddaughter, my daughter, for her wedding night. Granddaughter never took it out of the box either. About 10 years ago she returned it to me. I have not taken it out of the box.
When she turned 70, we talked her into going to a nice place and inviting all the grandkids to come celebrate with her. She reluctantly agreed. She never liked being made a fuss over like that, so it was really special that she allowed my sister, Pat, my brother, Mike and I to do this. All the grandkids came with spouses or dates. My son came with a beautiful blond that none of us had met. I teased that perhaps Grandma's 70th birthday party wasn't a great choice for a first date. My brother, however, totally thought it was a wonderful idea! Spent much of the evening congratulating him. UGH, boys!
The party was really fun and she had a wonderful time. Talked of it for months after, which she did only with good things.
She made a point each and every year after, however, that we were not to do that again. No more big ass parties, please. She preferred to just have her kids come to her house and have a meal either ordered in or cooked by us and cake. Chocolate cake, preferred, but all cake devoured!
|Jo - Mike - Pat 2009 Mother's Day|
The last birthday we were all together for her birthday ON her birthday was her 90th. Again, I asked if we could invite the grandkids. She said, "No, they're all busy and it's a week night. Don't make them come." She never understood they would like to come. So we all gathered at my house, also her choice, for a light mid-day meal and delicious ice cream cake! We learned later that week that she had Pneumonia. She was not hospitalized, but had medication to take three times a day so I arranged a pill box for each week so she'd not miss a dose. She did well with that. It was months before she was recovered and her strength never returned.
Her 91st was Pat and I and our husbands ON her birthday at her apartment and brother Mike and his wife came a different day so Pat and I also met them at her house for a second little birthday party.
|Jo - Pat - Momma 91st birthday 2013|
We had no idea those would be the last we were part of. Nor did she. It was nice and we will all remember it.
This year she will celebrate with Dad. I feel that's been going on for over a month now, the celebrating.
|Momma on my deck 2013|
I have no idea how I am actually going to get through this one. I am going to visit the cemetery, which I don't like doing, but I want to take her flowers, so I will do that. Perhaps a blue silk rose or small bouquet. I don't want them to turn brown and decay before I get back to remove them. Silk can maybe stay through the snow and make it feel a little less cold and isolated.
I plan to make one of her favorite meals. Either roast beef or spaghetti. I find cooking to soothe me some days and I feel like that will be one of those days. Maybe. Or at least, I will be doing something similar to what I've done in other years. That may not be good. I don't know. It's going to be a day of tears and sadness for what we no longer have, but I hope I can pull some joy remembering all those wonderful birthdays we did share. All those happy days with her children and her children-in-law were kind of rare and each of them is so special to me because I loved those gatherings maybe even a little more than she did. Though having her three kids with her at once was always a good day for her.
Exhausting, but good. I used to laugh because I did the cooking, brother drove 4 or 5 hours each way, sister would bring cake...and she was exhausted. :)
So Momma...I hope you are as happy as you deserve to be. I hope your heavenly reward is filled with birds to watch, dogs to pet and the man you married 71 years ago. I hope he has been holding your hand since you arrived and has not taken his eyes off of you. His wait and your wait were so long, I hope that reunion was everything you imagined. I know when you arrived God must have said, "Job well done, my child, welcome home. All is love and goodness here."
I love you with a heart that is still very tender, but the hole that once was filled by you, is slowly refilling with all that was you. Your desire to never be a burden was accomplished. You were never a burden and always my blessing. Stubborn blessing, yes, but blessing nonetheless. I miss you every moment and I survive only because I see you with Dad, Mom-Mom, Pop-Pop, Pop Reed and all the friends from way back, the family who left so long before you and I know you are happy. Maybe the happiest you've ever been. And that is eternity, you are young again, pain free again and in love again. That's how I get through each day.
Happy 92 Momma.
|Jo - Momma Her house in Portland 2008 I think|