Living Memories ~ Mom’s Birthday

As many know, today is my Mother’s Birthday. This day always feels strange to me. A yearly reminder of how young she was when she died. The last birthday that was uncelebrated. A another year gone by without her. It is not the hardest of the anniversaries, but perhaps one of the more complex to share. There is the joy of knowing that on this day, many years ago She was born. The awareness that for 50 years on this day – was one of great celebration across a few generations. Mom always loved a good get together. Bonfire if it was nice after riding horses. A scrumptious dinner of her favorites. Sometimes friends, often just family – always a party. Only to be changed on one day forever. Now its infinitely more complex to try to share. The love is shadowed by loss. The joy is held in grief. The smiles tempered by tears of pain that have no end.

Yet it feels significant to share.  To hold the awareness of these particular dates. To actively live with the loss and pain instead of it locked away in some deep corner of our minds. Many Red Maples were planted on the Farm in Tennessee and around. We watch these trees (and many others that she loved) grow each year. A reminder of how powerful a Life is even after death. The far-reaching tendrils of love no matter the denseness of the darkness. Her Children growing into adults. The stories told of her passed down as they become Myth. What a Life to have known.

Bittersweet this day of living Memory. To have such joy born from the love of a Woman so strong and beautiful – that even as children we knew we were truly privileged to call her Mom. To have such terrible grief that deadens life itself with the enormity of its weight, the awareness of what humanity is willing to do to one another and in particular, to those who shine the brightest for us.  Can we love enough to feel the joy within the pain? Can we stand with integrity of ourselves, to allow us to claim the grief that is there, to not shy away from a pain that is soul deep? I choose to remember as much as I can. To have this ongoing dynamic living memory of her now, and not just then.

~Joannie.

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November 12th Has Come Again

It is Mom’s Birthday today. As I have already said in years past – it is often a rewrite about how much she meant. How much I (and everyone) misses her. How much she is still loved. I don’t have much in the way of ‘new’ to write about. She would be 56 today. She should be here. Receiving love from her family – close and afar. And like all the other years, she is not. I could rail on and on about the unfairness of it all. I know people older than me that still have ALL their Grandparents, not just their parents. I cannot tell you that it is easier now that more than a few years have past. That any of the grief is less or that the hole in ones’ chest is suddenly smaller. All I can tell you is that the older I get, the more I understand just how amazing my Mother was. How much of who I am is because of her. How growing up with her has given me the expectation that people are so much more than they ever let themselves be and sadly – often are.

I doubt I will ever sit down on November 12th and think ‘It’s okay she isn’t here’. But even the first year and every one after, I have thought every day – not just on her birthday, that I am grateful in the most sincere way of what time I did get. I don’t really know how that can be, when I would give anything, including my own life to have her here to live a full lifetime. But it is. I don’t have much else to say this Birthday other than this short – rather poorly written poem about her.

 

One Moment or a Hundred within everyday

I see something that is you

Hear something that is you

Feel something that is you.

 

The color Red

So passionate and alive

A Cardinal’s call

Warm and protective.

 

A Dragonfly

The guide of your heart

A light in the dark

The joys in change.

 

The Autumn Leaves

Flashing colors that you danced among

Fires of the heart and soul

Nature’s celebration of your birth.

 

Waterfalls on the landscape

The heights which you climbed

The mist on your hair

The simple delights.

 

Music in the air

Flutes whispering

Drums dancing a primal beat

Loons calling to the heart.

 

My Mother had such a way about her, sometimes the memories feel like dreams themselves ~J

 

November 12th is Here Again

“My mother is a poem that I could never write”

I couldn’t agree more. Every time I go to write about her, I grasp for words. I look back upon what I have just written and shake my head at the ways it falls short. Yet not writing about her at all is even worse, it feels that like the rest of the world I have moved on from memory. So I write my hollow thoughts.

Today is her birthday. Every year I wonder if it will be different, easier maybe. And so far every year it’s not. I noticed that loss of a loved one is somewhat like chronic pain: as you learn to live with it, people actually believe you’re better.  Yet in reality, you’re just getting damn good at hiding it, treating it when it flares up so you don’t totally lose yourself to it. Everyday it’s the same fight; every night you feel the same pain. Only now, its familiar. Sometimes you can even trick yourself that it’s not there because you’re so used to it, see; but soon as you relax and let yourself pause, there it is, and it’s a world of hurt. But to most people in your life, if you said the words ‘I’m sad today’, they would ask why. Even though the answer is always the same.

Below: One year Dad had to work during Mom’s Birthday. While flowers wasn’t something he did often, this particular year he went all out and had these sent to her. Needless to say Mom was pretty impressed and had a great time with the surprise.

Mom with her Birthday Flowers from Dad

Mom with her Birthday Flowers from Dad

As a child it is not unusual to think your Mom is basically a deity incarnate. As an adult it is a little more unusual. While my Mother was human, sometimes a little too intense or loud, she had the tendency to take on too much chaos with her big heart. She was also utterly amazing. The way Mom loved us kids is inspiring to what the human heart is capable of. Whatever interests we had: sports, books, travel, music, art; she did her absolute best to not only support it, but be involved. She learned about it if she didn’t already know something of the subject and would engage us in conversations about it. She also pushed us; to try new things, to meet new people, to move outside of the comfort zone and experience things. She wasn’t afraid to revise her perception of something or someone. She would teach and lead others as if born to it, and then in the next moment, go to a class or seminar with us and be a model student.

Every year I feel like I’m just re-writing the same words. ‘Mom was the best’ ‘I really miss her’ etc. I guess I can take some comfort in that my feelings don’t change with time. Over the years I notice things that I wish I could have shared with her: an idea, a new artist she might like, thoughts about my life, the people in it, the world and how it affects me. To hear her thoughts and dreams as they changed and evolved. To get lost in our infamous half-day conversations (5 hours could go by and still there were subjects to be covered).

It’s her Birthday and all I want to do is light up her eyes by telling her how much she means to me. To plot with the younger kids on what to cook and to share with them the secret way to make the Bailey’s cake that she loves.

Mom’s Birthday is a mixed bag of emotions for me. On one hand I am so damn grateful and happy that I had her as my Mom, that we had so many great Birthdays. Yet on the other hand I am in a place that has no words, that there will be no more Birthday plotting. That all I have are memories. That my siblings and I don’t get to make new ones with her. I’m grateful for the time we did have, yet horribly envious of people 3 times my age whose Moms are still here.

She would only be 55 today. I know that she would look maybe 40. Be able to keep up with her teenage kids and their sports, have the energy for whatever dance/yoga/gym class she would be currently in while running the farm, family business and many other side projects.

I can honestly say my Mom was most loving, caring and strongest – in every sense of the word – woman I know.

Mom in her Bodybuilding Days

Mom in her Bodybuilding Days

Above: One of my most favorite pictures of her – just when she was getting big with her body building competitions.

Enjoy every Birthday with whomever you think of as Mom – blood or not.

~ J