Today is Mom’s birthday. She would have been 64 today. I wish she was 64.
Yesterday, I stopped and saw my grandparents, Mom’s dad and step-mom. My grandfather’s birthday is today, too, so every birthday he used to be reminded of the birthday present he got in my mom. Now, he will be reminded of his loss.
On my grandparents sideboard, amongst the pictures of me and my brother and my uncle, was a new picture of Mom and Grandpa, taken when she was, it seems, roughly my age. I couldn’t stop staring at the image. Mom was so young, still a full head of golden-hair and smooth, glistening skin. She and Grandpa have their heads together over a yellow-flowered birthday cake – they look so much alike.
I look so much like her. People tell me that all the time, but I have never believed them, thinking instead that I looked much more like my dad. But the truth is, this picture could be me if my hair was just a bit lighter and one of my eyes was blue. The same long chin, the same cheeks that lift toward our eyes when we smile, the same wrinkles in the corners of our eyes. She is definitely my mother. I am definitely her.
More and more over the past few weeks, I have noticed how my mannerisms mimic hers – the way I insert a wisecrack in a conversational lull, the gestures I make to emphasize a point, my posture which tends to lean toward the left by nature. Maybe I am coming to embody her now that she is beyond her own body, or maybe I’m just seeing what has always been there. Whatever it is, I like it.
I loved my mom – her humor, her insight, her temperament – and I miss her so deeply, especially today. I am so glad, though, that I see her in me now – alive, listing to the left, and ready to make a sarcastic comment at every turn.
Happy Birthday, Mom.