It’s a special day today. It’s my mom’s birthday, a milestone. Since we never give a lady’s age, let’s just say it’s a nice round number.
She was born at the end of a war, and didn’t meet her daddy until she was six months old. Her father made a career with the Army, and she spent her childhood crossing the Atlantic and Pacific. I used to play with her getas, the odd Japanese wooden shoes she brought from Okinawa. I wore her dirndl from Germany to my international festival in sixth grade. We ate enchiladas and tacos before Mexican food was trendy because she had lived in the Southwest. (As a young bride, she made tacos for her country-bred father-in-law. He scarfed them down, then asked what was for dinner.) Her childhood seemed very exotic compared to my own midwestern upbringing.
I had young, beautiful parents as a little girl. My mom was a homeroom mother and a Girl Scout leader. She was fearless, taking 30 little girls camping in the rain, cooking French toast in bacon fat on V-8 cans over homemade paraffin buddy burners. Nobody had a flash fire, and we dined like queens.
Because my mama was so young, she had great fashion sense. I tend to be conservative, like my Gram, going for pearls and a cardigan, or Victorian lace. Not Mom. She lives for color and print. Once, when I was in high school, she bought me a cute camisole with spaghetti straps that went with a matching peasant skirt. I was fretting about hiding bra straps. “You don’t need to wear a bra with that, Cherie.” I was both mortified and liberated.
By the time I reached high school, she had two more children, two parents at home, and a business to run with my dad. She managed to get us all to play practice and piano lessons and always had a delicious meal on the table. She was invincible.
Even though we had lean years, Mom always made sure we were exposed to art and culture. She took us to museums and theatre and ballet (even though my brother muttered under his breath through the entire Nutcracker, he now takes his kids). Table manners and fine dining are important. Mom is famous for her holiday dinners. She was Martha Stewart before Martha Stewart was Martha Stewart. You should see her house at Christmas. Or Thanksgiving. Or Easter. Or Christmas in July.
A lover of books, Mom became a school librarian. Because she shares a birthday with Dr. Seuss, there was always a party in the library on March 2. I think a whole generation of children loved reading because of her creativity and enthusiasm.
On trips with Dad, who was driven to get there in record time, Mom would always note the side trips she would like to take. She always wants to take the scenic route, enjoying the unexpected pleasures and taking as much in on the journey as possible.
Now she and Dad are retired and have a cabin on a lake up north. It is her greatest pleasure to host her children and grandchildren and introduce them to cabin life.
Mom and I have always been close. Not all my friends have such a good relationship with their parents, and I am aware of how precious it is to be able to talk to my mom about anything.
So, I raise my glass in a toast to my mother. Mom, you are warm and generous and kind, and you don’t know how beautiful and wonderful you are. Happy Birthday!
Now, go call your own mother, or raise a glass in her honor. Cheers.