Saturday, July 11, 2020

A Round Number

It’s my mother’s birthday today, one of those round numbers that humans notice more than the others as an artifact of having five fingers on two hands. 

We were supposed to have been back east to celebrate with her, before the world caught fire and everything changed.  Perhaps if Americans hadn’t been so belligerently ignorant about the whole pandemic thing we might have returned to some semblance of a regular life by now, like other more sensible countries have done, but apparently that’s beyond us as a culture these days. 

But you can’t let a milestone like that pass with a celebration no matter what the state of the world, so our plan is to get everyone together on a Zoom call later today and sing happy birthday to her.  Perhaps we’ll all have some kind of birthday treat to wave at each other, though I suppose that’s up to everyone individually.

As you get older you look back over the live you’ve led and, if you’re smart, you realize how much of it you owe to the people who were there for you when it mattered.  And my mom was there. 

I learned a lot from her, over the years.

I got my love of books from her.  I learned to appreciate smart, strong women by her example and those are the women I dated and eventually married.  We share an interest in genealogy, we have a fairly broad overlap in political views, and we have strikingly similar senses of humor.

This last feature can sometimes appear in odd ways.

When I was an undergrad I took a class on regional dialects, and the professor gave us a short list of words to see how we pronounced them – words that sound very different depending on where you are in this country, as I have since discovered by moving to the midwest and trying to make myself understood.  I called my parents that night and gave my mom the list.  “You pronounce them the same way I do,” I told her.  “Really?” she asked.  “The person who taught you how to speak pronounces things the same way you do?” 

Can’t say I didn’t walk straight into that one.

So tonight we Zoom, and we’ll be glad for what we can share.

Happy birthday, Mom.


LucyInDisguise said...

I will, I swear, eventually, get my ass to the station on time.

Happy Birthday, Mom!

(Just a couple of days late ... Better than the usual week?)


David said...

There's never a bad time for good wishes. :)

Katherine McKay said...

Not so late, Lucy. Here I am at this late date, and I'm the subject of this lovely piece. And thank you for your good wishes.

Thank you, David, too, for another lovely birthday blog. I still have the one you wrote for my 70th, framed and on my desk. It occasionally gets buried under paper much less important, but I regularly dust it off and prop it up where I can see it and love it all over again. Someday, I'm going to nail it up, frame and all. You have a lovely way with words. This year's blog is just as good even though I think somebody's kidding me with that number. My grandmother's 80, isn't she? I'm still just a slip of a girl with PLANS and babies to raise.
That phone call you mentioned, I remember vividly. For a boy with plans to get his Ph.D. that seemed a little odd, but it was one of the best calls I've gotten over the years. In between the agonies of parenthood waiting for cars to slide up an icy driveway at some ungodly hour of the morning, you get calls like that one. It made my day. You went on to much bigger and better things including that thesis I had to study seriously to really get it and admire the talent that produced it.
Thank you so much for being part of that giant Zoom call from all the family on Saturday and the chorus of Happy Birthday which demonstrated quite adequately why most of the family with one exception (you) stay out of choirs and merely mumble a sotto voce "amen" at hymn singing time. But I loved it, all of it. That you all would have taken the time to get together to wish an old bat Happy Birthday on a Saturday night meant so much. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I love you. Mom

David said...

You're welcome! :)

It was good to see you and have everyone together on Saturday, even if it was only on screen. We will have to have a big party whenever all this is over and we can meet in person again.

Love you too!

Ewan said...

Awww 😊