Monday, April 23, 2007

Happy birthday, Mama

Today marks my mother's 86th birthday, and she's been on my mind a lot in the last several days.

When she was about my age, she retired from teaching school because Daddy retired at age 65. They visited us often, helping with the move from St. Louis to Indianapolis later that year. They went to Europe with good friends and visited England, Ireland, Scotland, Austria, Switzerland, and I don't remember where else. They spent winters in Texas square dancing and playing bridge and enjoying fresh fruit and veggies. They went to the races in Hot Springs, Ark. It was a fun, active life.

I remember her young, too, going to school to get her bachelor's degree in the summers, then later her master's degree, also in the summers because she was teaching. I remember when she learned how to drive (just before I turned 16) and got a little Nash Rambler with automatic shift because she hated standard shift. I remember her sewing shorts and matching tops, and skirts and dresses for both of us.

We did NOT forget her birthday or Mother's Day if we wanted to remain in her good graces -- she was very sensitive about being remembered on those days, and I'll never forget the one Mother's Day that I didn't remember -- Daddy should have taken more of a part in helping us to remember it, but we all slipped that year. Life in our house that week was not fun, and I remember how bad I felt to this day.

Her 80th birthday was a wonderful celebration. She had been so terribly sick the winter before that we thought she was dying, and indeed, she had told her doctor that she was ready to go and he had, with all her doctors giving permission, taken her off of all her meds and put her on a cocktail of pain meds and antianxiety meds that kept her comfortable. She was under 100 lbs at that point and her eyes were luminous and huge in her face, and she couldn't feed herself, nor was she at all hungry. She was very calm, very rational.

But the universe had other plans, and she got better, and went back on the heart meds and others, little by little. (to be continued when Blogger permits)

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