“Happy Birthday is the first thing you should hear when you wake up and the last thing you should hear before you go to sleep.” – Judy King
Yesterday was Will’s birthday. 9 years old. I hate the cliché, “where did the time go?” but I must admit, I had no idea it would seemingly fly by this quickly. So every year on our birthday, Mother would celebrate in a huge way. She always had a way of making us feel special on a daily basis, but on our birthday, it was a huge celebration.
Mother realized birthdays are not just about turning one year older. Birthdays are about celebrating special moments and special people in your life. Birthdays are the perfect chance to really let a person know how much you care. Through the years, these birthday celebrations usually included calls, cards, flowers, balloons, a special breakfast, lunch, and dinner, gifts galore, plants for front porch, 2 birthday cakes (one for the day of your birthday and one for the day on the weekend we celebrated as well), pictures everywhere imaginable, and lots of time being together. To be clear, these celebrations never revolved around the money spent or the gifts being given. Mother’s way of showing love was through giving gifts, so at these times of year, this was how she did it. At times, I was overwhelmed. I always knew I could never begin to give in this way. I would even say “Mom, please don’t do so much!” And now that we have just celebrated our first family birthday without her, I finally get it.
The love she had for everyone (especially us) was overwhelming. She knew that. For someone like Mother, there was no other way to do celebrations than to just do them BIG! It was her way of tangibly showing us her love. Not everyone shows their love in that way, and she realized that as well. She never expected anything of the sort when celebrations were about her. So now, what do we do? How do we celebrate without her? This grand presence of my Mother was so painfully absent yesterday, and yet I felt her there the entire time.
I have realized I will never be able to BE my Mother. I’m not organized enough to think of all the things she did and be able to see them through. It has taken me a long time to be able to say that. However, when looking for olive oil in the grocery store, I came upon different herb infused olive oil. I researched a little and found out you can even create your own infused oil. You bottle the two ingredients together, and after a while, the olive oil will have a touch of the flavor you infused. Forgive the horrible analogy, but I figure I can be ME but infused greatly with my Mother. So yesterday, we celebrated BIG, but it was my style of big. We only had 1 birthday cake. We won’t do another lunch celebration again today. But we had balloons, favorite outings, special lunch, special dinner, presents, and lots of love demonstrated to our precious Will. Mom’s biggest rule for birthdays. . . . “Happy Birthday should be the first thing you hear when you wake up and the last thing you hear before you go to sleep.” THAT little tradition will stick around forever. . . as will her presence, influence, and memories she gave us to hold tight to when we miss her most.