happy birthday.

 Today is my mama's 84th  birthday. All moms are special, but due to circumstances in my mom's life, she has proven to be pretty extraordinary.  The amazing thing is, if you told her so, she would laugh it off and tell you anybody would have done the same.  You just do what you have to do!   I am grateful to this lady for so very many things, I hardly know where to begin.  So I will start at the beginning.

My mom met my dad through a mutual friend in the fall of 1966.  She was divorced, and he was widowed (by my biological grandmother).  My mom was working as an office manager at Wham-o toys in Los Angeles, and my dad was an aerospace engineer working on the Apollo projects. She was unable to have kids, and he had three. They met, were a perfect match, and were married five months later.

Things went along, as they generally do in life. Normal ups and downs.  Fast forward thirteen or fourteen years.  I was a toddler, and because of my biological parents inability to care for me, I had been shuffled between my maternal and paternal grandparents for two years. At this point, my mom and dad (my maternal grandparents) took over full time care of me.  They adopted me when I was six, and officially became my parents. But this was really only a formality, since they had always played that role. I did maintain a relationship with both of my biological parents, which was sometimes confusing to me.  What really makes a parent?

As I have gotten older and become a parent myself, the answer is obvious.  My mom was the woman who kissed me goodnight and laid with me when I was sick.  She was the one who took me to eat Chinese food for the first time, and ordered hot tea in those fancy cups.  The woman who bought me that huge denim purse we used to sneak bags of popcorn into the movie theater ( who would suspect a little girl with a round purse smelling of butter?) She was the one who held me all night long when we found out my biological mom died.  The one who  told me I  dressed crazy in high school.  The one who I fought with about anything and everything just because she was there.

We have grown into the relationship we have now.  We have weathered many storms together, she and I.  We experienced the loss of my biological mother, my dad, my aunt and my cousin.  All difficult and unimaginable. Tragedies have a way of bonding people. We will always carry the loss of these loved ones with us, and there is comfort in knowing we both feel the same. But the good things in life are what we must focus on.  I credit my mom for teaching me this valuable lesson.  To pick yourself up and dust yourself off and live your life. No excuses.   

The beauty in our lives and our relationship far exceeds any of the bad stuff.   She has been with me every step of the way, encouraging me, and putting me in my place when I need it. She was with me when the boys were born, and has been there for them every minute of their lives.  She welcomed John to our family with open arms (tattoos and all) and loves him like her own.  She continues to live her life every day with grace and humor.  She is my dear friend as well as my mom, and I love her.

Happy Birthday!

Bird and Cleaver