Today would have been my mom’s 82nd birthday. Gloria loved flowers, roses, in particular. My, how she loved roses! It would have been such a treat for her to visit the New York Botanical Gardens today. But since she can’t, I’m sending these flowers to her.
Mama and I were alike and yet so different. She told me once that she wished she’d had my courage. I told her I wished I had her brains. I know for sure that if she had had half the educational opportunities I’ve had, she would have reached the moon. I’m glad I was able to tell her that.
For a long time, I measured myself against her. Probably still do.
She sewed, without a pattern. She’d take the measurements, cut the material and sew a dress, skirt, shirt or whatever. She crocheted and embroidered, baked and cooked, and did each equally well. Everyone loved her rum cakes.
Played the flute and taught me how. The difference is, at the end of the summer, I’d forget. She never did.
Did the payroll for my grandfather and my uncle every Friday afternoon. She never used a calculator and it was never wrong. She kept meticulous notes and filed the receipts neatly every week. And if there was ever a question from an employee, she could remember exactly how many hours they worked and what their payroll amount was and back up her memory with her records. She was never wrong.
In my first or second year of high school, my English teacher asked us to write a poem. We had read poems in class but she hadn’t taught us how to write one. I didn’t know how and worse, I didn’t think I could. I was almost in tears when I got home from school that day.
I wish I had kept the poem Mama dictated as she sat marking papers at the table. After I finished writing it, she started to hum a melody, one she had created for the poem. She grew even taller in my eyes that day.
Mama always said she could ‘read’ me like a book. She wasn’t bluffing – she could sniff out a lie every time. I learned early not even to try to fool her. Her dreams were prophetic, I never understood it until some of mine started to have the same quality.
She was a stickler for what was right and proper, and set the bar so high, I never thought I’d ever measure up. So I was shocked the first time Gloria’s words came out of my mouth!
For the last ten years, I’ve been negotiating life without her often sage advice and insight. I miss her everyday but I know the love we have for each other keeps me strong.
Happy Birthday, Mom!