On no day of the year is my mother's absence in my life felt more keenly than on my birthday. Seventeen years ago today my mom came to visit me in Birmingham, only to wake up paralyzed on one side of her body, due to a brain tumor that would be discovered later that day. The days between then and her death on Christmas Eve of that same year are somewhat of a blur. Seems like both forever ago and only yesterday at the same time.
In spite of my workaholism, which has plagued me for most of my adult life, I can look back on that time and know I did the right thing. I took a significant amount of time off from my job to be there. This was before the inception of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), but my employer (actually my boss) was sympathetic and gave me a lot of leeway that would not be allowed today in corporate America. For that I am grateful.
If I inherited anything from my mother, I hope it was her bent toward hospitality, and I think I have. Hosting gatherings in my home comes easy for me and is something that brings me joy.
I recently reconnected with a childhood friend on facebook. We have not been in touch since high school graduation. Here's what she had to say about her memory of my mom:
" To this day, I still think of your mama every time my son brings friends home after school. Your mother was THE BEST at timing things to where we would arrive and she would have snacks ready and waiting for us and she would serve us like she had been waiting all day long for the moment of our arrival...."
The thing that makes me smile most about this is knowing that someone remembers that from thirty-plus years ago.
Now, off to do some house-cleaning to prepare for my out-of-town guest...
Labels: birthday, childhood, family, grief, hospitality