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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Happy Birthday, Mom

September 29th – still a special day, birthday of someone missing at Preacher Child’s wedding…

Throughout my life – if Sweet Home Alabama or Spirit in the Sky played on the radio, if a family member struggled with cancer or passed away …
Mom instructed: Don’t resuscitate, don’t hook me to a machine or feed me with a tube. Let me go. Bury me in the cheapest pine box you can find - wear a red dress to my funeral.

Play music, serve good food, have a party ‘cause I’ll be with Jesus.
I imagined wearing that red dress as an old lady myself. Longevity runs deep. Great-grandma lived to 103; Grandma’s pushing 90 and runs circles around us with her new knee – stubborn as ever and game for adventure.

But there I was in church – dressed in red; barely in my 40’s.
Mom was my best friend. We spoke on the phone most every day, even before cell phones. I learned to make gravy over the phone, received parenting advice – heard what was up in Alabama with the birds, flowers, weather, cats, her 5th graders, ladies in her Sunday School class, what dad made for dinner…. I miss those calls.

She was tiny: 4’ 11”and feisty, even throughout the last few days of her life this side of heaven -  battling brain cancer for 10 years.
3 days after surgery: I received a phone call from mom, thrilling! I‘d expected our calling days to be done.

She was incensed: “Did you know I had brain surgery? Does your father know about this?  Who’s this O’Malley character?” 
“He’s the neurosurgeon, Mama – he pretty much saved your life.”

 Mom was not impressed: “Well he’s a BRICK.” 
I reminded her how miraculous she was - working crossword puzzles in the hospital, reading books, scheduled to go home soon, exceeding expectations. She rebuked: “I’m NOT miraculous, people are PRAYING for me!”

(Note: She later changed her mind about the surgeon, named him “The Sainted Dr. O’Malley”.)
A couple of weeks later, at home on Christmas Day – during one of her last lucid moments before I ‘became the parent’...

Mom issued her best advice: “I’ve had a great life. I’m so proud of my children and wonderful grandchildren. I’m not angry with God - or questioning why this happened to me.  But Honey! Stop worrying about fat grams, drink more red wine and enjoy your life. “
Happy Birthday, Mom. We toast you today.

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