My mother turned 85 last week, and all of her children, plus two of their spouses, helped her celebrate. She welcomed us to her new home with pizza and salad for dinner and home-made muffins for breakfast. We fêted her in a French restaurant and with a fantastic birthday cake. As great as the food was, the best part of the celebration was that we were together, celebrating Mother and our family, and giving each other space to be the people we’ve grown to be.
We talked about work and family, travel and health, pets and plans for the future more freely than we do by phone or email. We had a lot of catching up to do!
We shopped, watched movies, took naps, and ate more food. We sat in my sister’s Jacuzzi, laughing hysterically with Mother as she tried valiantly to stay upright and keep her feet on the bottom of the hot tub. We sorted papers, pictures, and “stuff.” Of course, we heard lots of stories, asked questions, and exclaimed over treasures found and photos forgotten. We laughed, remembered, learned. We took our time. There was no need to hurry—it was the quality of our time together that was important, not the number of tasks accomplished.
When I flew back to Los Angeles on Monday, I carried three generations of women in my suitcase:
-a crocheted sweater from my infancy,
-an embroidered dress my mother wore in 1930, and
-a quilt top made by a great-great-aunt in the late 1800’s.
I brought seven generations of family in my carry-on bag:
-a photo of my grandmother and great-grandmother
-with two of my mother’s siblings and
-a great-great-grandfather who was a contemporary of Andrew Jackson (1800’s);
-a photo of Mother and her four children taken on her 85th birthday;
-pictures of my children; and
-an ultrasound of my first grandchild.
I brought home memories of an amazing time when Mother and Dad’s children gathered to celebrate the woman we all love and to honor the family our parents created.
Thanks Mom/Nan. Your whole family loves you.