“Girl, I’m thirty-two years old today!”
If I am doing my math correctly, I would have been almost three years old on that day, August 13, 1984. That day holds the key to one of my earliest childhood memories of my mother. She spoke those words to me as if I were her equal, and I can remember my nearly three year old self agreeing with her as if I understood the significance of her words. She probably spent the remainder of that day drawing pictures of Pac-Man on random sheets of paper for me, as we both gazed out the window in the back room waiting for my siblings to arrive home from school. To this day that memory will randomly replay itself in my mind, and I wonder if that thirty-two year old version of her would have ever imagined that moment would stay with me forever.
Here I am today, thirty-eight years old, and that same memory still replays in my mind. When you were my age, you lost your oldest child and for a moment my nine year old self thought that I had lost you as well. I witnessed you exude a strength that I damn sure do not possess at thirty-eight now, and watched you start to bloom again like a flower. My memories of adolescence are vague, but your perseverance still spoke volumes. I saw you make a major career change in the wake of your husband falling ill, and again stand in your strength despite your apprehension. By then I was preparing to head off to college. My memories of that time are of you staying on top of me as I struggled to find my way, and coming home super late to find you laying in my bed, in the dark, underneath my covers, scaring the crap out of me as I tried to sneak into the house unnoticed. You were brazen and unapologetic, but that scare tactic probably saved me from plenty of unforeseen dangers.
I’ve watched you grow up and enter this next stage of life, and I know that in you God created one hell of a woman. Your strength, your vulnerability, the way you have fed generations carelessly… the way you pour yourself into being a caregiver for my daddy, even though we all want you to save some of you for yourself. It’s an honor being your daughter, and your friend.
I may not have known it then on your 32nd birthday, but today on this particular birthday, I can genuinely say that spending every day since with you has been a pleasure and I look forward to many many many many more. Happy Birthday!
“Girl you sixty-eight today!” 😎