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Happy Birthday Momma

Tomorrow would be my mother’s 80th birthday.

Just not being able to say those words to you even after all these years… makes me desperately want a cigarette. It’s a shame I don’t drink. A little drunk might take the edge off. I’m not sure which edge. The one that regrets not being able to tell my mother Happy Birthday or the edge that is creating a silent screaming nicotine needing kind of … fit. Either way it is an edge worth… relieving.

But… I don’t generally drink… having nothing on-hand to start drinking… refuse to even try to smoke a cigarette… and don’t have anything tobacco related around here either.

Amazingly this might be the first time I have slowed down long enough to really wallow in what it means to not be able to say Happy Birthday to my own Momma. That’s definitely a poor reflection on me. The woman’s been gone for more than two decades . It seems like this should have come up before now. Doesn’t it?

I’ve had a lot on my plate.

That is sure not the case now. My plate is real empty now. If I’ve got anything it is… TIME. Plenty of time. Time and… MEMORIES.

And… on this birthday… I want to tell the world some of my memories of… MOMMA. Yes. This will be a white-washed, sanitized, rose-colored glasses in place slow time waltz down memory lane. Because… most of the not so great things were just tiny-didn’t-matter-in-the-long-run things and those couple of bigger things that maybe did matter are where they belonged all along really and that is between Momma and God. Just like me and my own not perfect moments are my own white throne things to be cleared up some day between me and our maker.

So. The good stuff.

The best phrase Momma ever taught me was “can’t never could” … and she was right. Can’t was forever banned from every fiber that became the me I grew up to become. I admit there MIGHT be something out there that I am unable to do, have, accomplish or achieve but by golly I will be exhausted, half-drowned, beat up, torn down, run over, drug up and fit to be tied before I will get close to admitting it. CAN’T is just not in my vocabulary. Thank you Momma.

I didn’t realize when we were growing up what a phenomenal feat my Momma accomplished just about every day, rain or shine. I was about ten years into my own marital bliss before I realized the chore that woman managed day after day and to my knowledge with virtually never a complaint about it. She cooked a hot sit-down supper… every single day. Anybody who has never had this responsibility has no idea just what is involved in such an endeavor. From scrimping the money to afford the food, to shopping for it, saving this or that back from all manner of prowling hungry growing kids to have for a particular meal to getting it all done somewhere near the same time frame and dished out on the table to be almost ravenously devoured by a family who at times probably acted like they’d never seen a meal. But she did it. Over and over and over. Thank you Momma.

Creative could have been my Momma’s middle name. There was just nothing that woman couldn’t do with her hands. She could sew, paint, embroidery, crochet and do all kinds of arts and crafts things. I remember the little reindeer she made for Christmas one year. Then there were the pin cushion spoons covered in velvet that were so popular as gifts back in the late 1960’s. Of course she did the hand painted Christmas ornaments out of balsa wood that year. She even let me help. I still have those in a box around here somewhere for when my daughter wants to have an old-fashioned tree one year. Someday. Maybe. There was also the latch hooked rugs and the macramé plant hangers. Yep. Momma kept her hands busy pretty much my entire life. And taught me that we, any of us, are only limited by our imaginations. Thank you Momma.

Momma also taught us the proper way to travel. None of this racing from point A to point B with our Momma. Nope. Whether it was a week long trip to Garner State Park on vacation or just a trip into town to see Granny the process of… getting there… was part and parcel to what was to be enjoyed. And while there were the occasional game like the alphabet game played by spying roadside signs or the license plate game by tallying up out of staters the big all enveloping activity that took place whether it was a block or several counties to cover was… SINGING. And we all sang. Top of our lungs as they say. ♫ Have You Been To Jesus For The Cleansing Power ♫ or another personal favorite not many know these days goes something like ♫ Don’t Let ‘Em Tear That Little Brown Building Down, Don’t Let ‘Em Tear That Little Brown Building Down, Don’t Let ‘Em Tear That Little Brown Building Down ‘Cause There’s Not Another Like It In The Country or The Town. ♫ Yep. No doubt about it… when the roll is called up yonder… WE will know all the words. Thank you Momma.

One thing I especially think is special my mother imparted to us was to take care of ourselves, pursue our own happiness, move the world around us into whatever pattern best accommodates us, our needs, our hopes, our aspirations. In short… it is okay… even expected… to be happy, be optimistic and insist on being the one with the full cup, overflowing is good. Thank you Momma.

Obviously the list of these memories is pretty much endless. I can’t type them all out… I guess.

But I have to mention just this one more…

My mother always loved and accepted my child… just the way the good Lord made her. She never lived near enough to lavish her with hugs or gifts or time. But it was obvious in the things she gathered up to send as little gifts and the things she said in cards, letters or on the phone that she never held her grandbaby in anything but the highest esteem. There was never even a hint of if she’d only, or why doesn’t she, or if she would just. Not ever. In her words… through her heart… I always felt I got a small glimpse of what God sees when he looks down at these … his children. She just… simply… and completely… LOVED my child. Thank you Momma.

Oh… and Happy Happy Birthday … (are you helping save me that seat up there by the window?)

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