Today, May 18th, is my mother's birthday. I have thought of her all day. Mostly I have thought about how much I miss her. She would be 83 today and if she hadn't been a lifelong smoker, she might still be here with us. I miss hearing her voice, our long telephone talks. I wonder if there is a heaven and if she watches me work, sees me with my family, maybe even marvels at the kind of person I am, the person she helped me to become.
For a long time in my life, I would want to do things and be hesitant. I would say to myself, would my mom be afraid to do this? And off I would go and do the very thing that made ME/her afraid. When it came time to write her obituary, and I looked back on her life, I realized she was not afraid of anything. She was a trailblazer. She did things that women of her generation did not do. She was too young to be a Rosie the riveter in WWII but as a young woman she was a police officer and was working during big riots in the city of Philadelphia. She was a butcher in a market, a trade only men did at that time. Hard, dirty work. When I was in high school, after she had been home taking care of my brother and sisters, she went back to work as a finish carpenter and learned a trade all over again. She reinvented herself right before my eyes and showed by example that you could grow, change and begin again. Make new friends. Yes, I miss her and I wish my youngest child actually knew her but the better parts of me, the strong parts of me, the persevering parts of me are all my gifts from her.