Birthdays are times of celebration–sometimes. Planned moments of thoughtfulness-on occasion.
We celebrated my Mom’s 90th birthday this past weekend. The real date is September 8, but at 90, who’s going to quibble about a few days?
It was family time–my two sisters and brother, cousins, nieces, nephews, grandkids and a great-grandkid thrown in for good measure. We talked, laughed, ate till we thought we’d burst, then laughed some more.
And we looked at old family albums. Mom reminisced. We heard stories for the first–or twenty-first–time. And we all got a little better picture, a larger piece, of the story of Mom.
She was a woman before her time. A young girl during the Depression, she was the youngest of six, born to German parents who immigrated to the U.S. Her oldest brother died in infancy. Her father died when she was two–an inebriated doctor operated on him for appendicitis, and Grandpa didn’t make it. Her mother worked long days in the bakery the family owned in Chicago.
And through it all, Mom was determined to make something of herself. A bit of a wild child, she wasn’t afraid of trying new things. Didn’t hesitate to go where no woman had gone before. Mom had drive and imagination. Passion and hope.
I soaked up pictures of Mom as stories were told. Her stories. I could see the young girl playing behind the bakery as her mom and siblings worked. The teenager dating guys she identified as ambitious. The young woman wanting a career. And meeting and marrying my Dad.
I’ve not always gotten along with Mom. (There’s a surprise–a daughter not living in agreement with her mother. How do I not appreciate this? I’ve got five daughters. and a son, none of whom have always agreed with my perspective.) I’ve not always appreciated what her life has been like. What she has had to go through to become who she is. The price she’s paid for her choices, often for our sakes.
And I realized how story overlaps story. We’re all stories in progress, each day adding a new page, a new chapter. But no one begins reading in the middle of the book–you’d never get the storyline. To appreciate the value of the story, you have to start at the beginning.
We’re all co-authoring our stories with the Author of Life. God knows all our chapters, and they all have value to Him. The beauty of life is that our stories bump into and blend with so many others. Sometimes we lose sight of where the story starts. Or we forget about what happened in chapter 8. Or we’d really like to rip out chapter 13. But our stories are who we are.
You’ve written quite a thriller, Mom. I won’t say it’s been an easy read, but it has helped me appreciate who you are. And who I am as a result.
Happy Birthday, Gorgeous. Thanks for helping me appreciate the value and beauty of a bumpy ride.