Happy Birthday, Mom
This year, my mother has insisted that I not buy her a birthday present. Not because she doesn’t want to celebrate it – she loves birthdays. As the struggling artist in the family, both of my parents have ordered me in the past not to give them presents, and I never listen. Having to ask for grocery money for my birthday only a few short weeks ago (although Fresh Direct still tastes like one of the best birthday presents ever!), I seem to have less of an ability to argue this time and feel humbled to have such lovely and loving parents as would beg me to save my money and just call them.
So today, I honor my mother today by respecting her wish and her generous heart by keeping my pennies to pay rent and instead would like to reflect on this past year in which I’ve benefited from her life and love. After all, birthdays come and go so that we can express our gratitude for our loved ones’ presence in our lives for another year. I am grateful, Mom.
Last fall, my mother traveled out to Richland, WA to see me play Nellie in South Pacific. Ask anyone in town if I could talk about much else the day she attended the show. Of course she brought flowers, she’s pretty great about that. Even more spectacularly, on her trip, she dared to invite and physically meet her newest best friend, who she met online just a few years ago. Sharing a medical condition, my mother and her friend Janette (whose birthday coincidentally also passed just two days ago) began their friendship while researching symptoms and solutions and hit it off immediately. Living on opposite sides of the country, they’ve had a fun but long distance friendship over the phone, on Facebook chat (yes, my mom chats on Facebook much more than I do), and of course on Farmville.
Until last November, these women had never met. Then, one day in Pasco, WA, my mother recognized Janette (or was it the other way around?), snuck up on her, and scared her like a schoolgirl. Honestly, I doubt they’ve stopped laughing about that moment. Janette fills a position in my mother’s life easily with her fun, intelligent, and light-hearted manner. They share joys and struggles as if they had spent a lifetime as friends. I enjoyed the show the night they attended and relished the role I’d been given, but more tears fell from my pride in my mother for taking such a leap of faith somewhat later in life.
With one of the biggest hearts I know, Mom has given me the same benefit of her friendship as often as I reach out to take it. I have shocked her this year with some intense risks, vulnerabilities, and yes, Tableau Vivant. She awaited my updates via Facebook and text as I jumped from a plane. Despite our differing opinions, she has talked openly with me about my stage nudity in Tableau, about her fears and also my joys and successes. Recently, she has taken the time to really understand issues so personal I’ve not yet written about them and to caution me about responses I may receive when I do. Yes, I receive some few cruel comments about my life on Skydiving for Pearls from time to time and while I intend to write about these new adventures so close to my heart, she has helped me to take the time to carefully consider and deliberate upon that decision.
When she decided to encourage me again by attending my recital last April, she brought my Aunt (another amazing friend of my mother’s) and met my sister there (all great supporters). Although the major storms that almost blew her off the road that evening assured me of her commitment, I never doubt her pride when I see the tears in her eyes and her overwhelmed smile after hearing me sing (Of course my father also supports in huge ways and tells me often about his pride, but this one’s about Mom).
Mostly, I want to say thank you, Mom, for listening, for your kind honesty, and for your friendship. You always know my heart even when we disagree, and I hope you know that all the advice I give in return comes from the same loving place as yours. I could never repay you for all you’ve given me, and I’m just so thankful that you were born. Happy birthday, Mom.