Happy Birthday, Mama


I like Saturday mornings.  I watch the sunrise, without a sense of urgency.  I can think my own thoughts and allow my mind to stray without a sense of hurry.  I stay in the clothes, that I woke in, for a good while.  This particular morning is warm  and the sky doesn’t host a single cloud-and today, is mamas’ birthday.

Mama and daddy married very young.  They married in 1958.   They live where a pasture used to be on the farm, my mom grew up on, and still have the first phone number, they were ever issued.  Daddy retired from a factory, he had worked at for thirty years.  Mama kept the house, managed the money and raised three girls, in the process.

Tending the house, is no small matter, to me.  I find it to be as noble a work as there is. Our house, was not a closet for accumulated possessions.  The kitchen was not a pantry for pre-packaged foods.  Laundry was done steadily and hung on a line, to dry in the sunshine.  I did not ever wonder, if mama would be there, when I got off the school bus-she was, without fail.  If one of us was sick, we did not go to school, hoping it would pass.  She checked our homework, insisting it “was neat” as well as accurate.  She taught us good manners.  Manners that made us consider the needs of others.  Good manners are really just that and we practiced them til they became our second nature.  I believe now, that those early lessons, that became habits, have made all the difference-may be the biggest factor in my life, even now- for they were, lessons in compassion and respect, and nothing less.

Mama took us to church, every Sunday.  I have the perfect attendance awards, to prove it.  When we were young, mama made our dresses.  I hated the measuring and trying on pinned up fabric-you were bound to get pricked, no matter how careful you were.  This morning, when I remember that time, it humbles me without end.

When we went on vacation, mama packed an arsenal of snacks and little surprises for the children, as well as everything else.  I am sure that all my sweet daddy had to do, was get in the car.  

Sometimes, mama packed a picnic basket for us to eat outside on a blanket, by the edge of the woods, on the farm.  She made cakes for special days and decorated them herself, without any formal training in that art, and did a fine job, whether they were heart shaped or looked like a rabbit.  All details, belonged to mama, when I was growing up.

One Christmas, I suppose, money was scarce.  As her children, we would not, have been troubled with such concerns.  We were taught that waste was about sinful, in general.  (I still think it is.)   On Christmas morning, my sisters and I got dolls.  Each doll had dozens of little dresses, bonnets and booties.  We were thrilled and tried them all out that morning!  We hoped for rain and snow-we hoped for cold days and nights, because our dolls had everything needed for such times.  It was months later, I finally realised that the dresses our dolls wore, were of familiar fabrics.  I would remember having a dress of the same cloth.  I remembered an itchy fabric, I had worn now showing up in a coat for my doll.  It was a Christmas miracle, I thought.  How clever, Santa was this year.  Mama, did not correct me.  Years later, when the dolls laid motionless in boxes, under the bed-mama finally confessed, that money had been scarce that year, and so she set out on a mission, for her girls to have a Christmas, that did not tattle about that.  It is one of the sweetest memories I have, and clearly indicates the “art of motherhood” done well.  

Mamas’ career never ends.  Her work, did not land her plaques to hang on the walls or “papers” that officially declared her competent, in some area.  Mama had to know it all or learn quickly.  

My mama is seventy five years old today-and as it turns out, her work, did pay off.  Her daughters “rise and call her blessed”.  Her promotion to “Nana” did finally happen, and now she has the daughter, of her own grand daughter that greeted this world, wrapped in a baby blanket, made by her hands.  Mamas’ walls boast many awards now.  Some have dark brown eyes and some have freckles.  The latest has the bright blue eyes of her dad, and little baby teeth.

Of all the things this world offers,  good parents, top the list, I think.  Mama did not hesitate to sacrifice -nor gear up for battle, should an occasion  warrant such measures. She “gave to this planet” by taking great care of “her charges” and then dismissed us to serve others, by her example.  I do not believe, there is a more noble line of work.

Happy Birthday  Mama!