Happy birthday to my mom, The Most Thoughtful and Beautiful. When we would complain as kids about having to return to school after Christmas vacation, she would remind us that she had always had to return to school on her birthday, thus trumping all our arguments.
Mom loves the color blue, Grover from "Sesame Street," Viggo Mortensen's Aragorn from the Lord of the Rings movies, Doctor Zhivago, and Sam Elliot. She never fails to say "Ooh, Baby!" when Clark Gable first appears on-screen during Gone with the Wind, and she is still sad that "Captain Kangaroo" is no longer on the air, as she thought it was by far the dearest "kids'" show. She used to do a lot of oil painting but later worked more with acrylics and has sold her artwork in shops in Pennsylvania and Connecticut. Her great-grandparents were from France and Norway. She adored her grandparents. She is known for singing out "Cup of tea!" when stressed, and she thought to bring my grandmother bouquets of garden flowers to the hospital to give Grandma life and color and beauty and a taste of home during her final days. ("Why do people always wait to give flowers to people after they've died?" she wonders.)
Mom is better with children than anyone else I've ever met, and they gravitate toward her. She loves antiques and the ocean, Sophia Loren and red gingham, sugar cookies without frosting, and houses that are what she calls "small and chubby." She is creative in all things and talked my dad into tearing down our garage in the 1980s so we could use the space as a patio. She hates to sew but is always making pillows and curtains, and when a stuffed cat I fell in love with in 2007 cost so much as to be absurd, she made a replica of it for me as a Christmas present.
She has three brothers and three sisters and helped raise the younger ones. She is still in touch with her best friend from high school, sweet Vickie. She is sarcastic and self-deprecating, and our sense of humor is quite similar. We can get each other laughing hysterically, although, as with most mothers and daughters, we went through our stages of not laughing together much at all. After my best friend, Sommer, died in 1995, she had dreams of her that were so detailed and lovely as to make me jealous. Without Mom, I would not have gotten through the rest of that year. My friends have always loved her, and she is still impressed that even now, when she runs into my former kindergarten teacher, Mrs. R remembers her and asks about us. She is short. She would live in her garden if she could, envies the "Hobbits" their little round homes, loves rabbits and miniatures, and she thought my dad was pulling her leg the first time they went to a baseball game and my dad told her there would be a seventh-inning stretch. ("But then everybody stood up! I just could not believe it!")
Mom's favorite person in the whole wide world, although she would never admit to choosing just one, is probably her sister Laurie, pictured with us above. Mom doesn't like rudeness or vulgarity, and I've only heard her swear maybe three times. ("Yourmotherdoesn'tsaythat!" she races to apologize afterward.) She watched the "Guiding Light" soap faithfully, loved Robert Newman's "Joshua Lewis" character on it, and remembers watching the show with her own grandmother as a child. Daisies are her favorite flower, she thinks the world of Eloise Wilkins' illustrations, and she never forgets a birthday or anniversary.
Somehow, in the haze of the past week and a half's cold, I still found myself in line at the post office December 30th to get her card and package mailed out on time, and since I'm determined to visit my family more often this year, I will actually get to see her again in just ten days. Happy birthday, Mom. ♥