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.