Happy Birthday Mum!

And suddenly I realised that I hadn’t thought about which birthday she was celebrating.
65.

Although features have changed over the years, my mother still seems the same to me. Yes, mid forties maybe but 65? At the same time 65 doesn’t seem as old anymore as it seemed when I was 15. My parents aren’t old.

When I called this morning to wish her a Happy Birthday, she was in good spirit. We joked about her trying to ignore the addition of another year, her delay in being able to get off the couch and to the phone, and being partners in crime for back pain. Why cry over something when you can laugh about it? But I know, the fact that she’s now moving closer to 70 is not that easy to shake off combined with the fact that doctor’s visits are becoming more frequent is difficult to ignore.

Good thing is, it’s a purely internal battle, because my mother is absolutely cool. Nobobdy who knows her (except for the family in teasing moments) would call her old. For the benefit of those who don’t know her (well), here’s a summary:

Beauty
Looking at her, you’d never tell she was 65. Blessed with both good skin and the discipline to take care of it, she looks no day over 47 and still wins that battle easily. Her sense of fashion and style keeps her hip without making the detrimental mistake of trying to look like 20 years old girls. She’s tall and hasn’t let any part of her body go. In short, she is all over beautiful.

Talent
If I have an artsy side it would have to be fully attributed to my Mum. The other day I was explaining to a friend how to get flowers scored onto a wine glass. Not something I do nowadays, however one of the things my mother taught us to do. We always made our seasonal presents for family members ourselves, but rather than paint a picture, every year, my mother had us do another project. We went from glass etching, to burning pictures onto wood boxes, to painting silk, to dried flower arrangements, to sewing, to miniature pictures, to making chocolates or baking etc. And I remember she excelled at everything she touched. Once she got passed her own sky high expectations (which would be another thing I’ve inherited). Today she has taken up her lifelong passion for painting again and nothing has changed. She still creates wonderful pieces but in her eyes nothing is ever good enough.

Heart and Openness
As a child it was difficult at times to deal with hearing my mother talk openly about what she felt, thought and feared. The older I get, the more I realise how few people actually are able to do so. Especially knowing that she grew up in a very British ‘keeping up appearances’ – culture, my mother might have done that with the impersonal public, but she never settled for sweeping issues under the carpet, shutting up what was going on inside of her. Even if she might not always know how to resolve something right away, she never lets it slide. For my ability to question, accept and challenge who I am, without ever losing that fundamental confidence of being and having a right to be, I’m forever thankful to the strength of her heart and her willingness to share it.

Responsibility and Strength as a person and a mother
Having my own family and my fair share of responsibilities now, I know how challenging it can be to get up and do what needs to be done. Thinking back to the all the years my mother took care of myself and my sister and my Dad and into how many mornings/days that translates, without ever missing to make sure we were safe, healthy and had what we needed, I often wonder how she did it. Yes of course it’s love, but even with love it doesn’t come automatically.

Guts
Traveling alone as a female always requires a little guts. Traveling alone as a female at 64, on a month long trip in a country that is daylong flight away and looks nothing like home takes a little more guts. Leaving your home country to spend the rest of your life in another one, isn’t a simple thing to do either. But it’s not just around travel that my mother climbs over what many people would see as too difficult. It’s not about ‘not being scared’ it’s about ‘being scared but still doing it’ no matter what other people may or may not say.

‘Allgemeinbildung’
It’s a German word which I’d loosely translates into ‘general education’. Her motto has always been that it’s not about how much you know about one thing, but how many things you know something about. Being able to be at any social gathering and holding a conversation on anything from arts to science, history to politics, philosophy to religion, cars to sports, local and global cultures or business at least in her mind would make sure that one does not go hungry nor lonely. My mother has never stopped actively learning, keeping her mind young.

Mum, I cannot fit you into a two page document. All I can say is that if I at 65 have achieved and inspired half as much as you have, I’m doing good. I know some days it feels as if time is running out, we all feel that way at times. But independent of which view I take on all the things that really matter, you’ve done an awesome job and I know, that with your heart, talent, beauty, guts, determination and increasing ‘Allgemeinbildung’, life’s doors are still wide open.

Happy Birthday Mum! From the bottom of my heart thank you for all that you’ve given me and who I am today, because of you. You rock!

I love you very much.

Susanne

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~ by spasmicallyperfect on March 12, 2008.

2 Responses to “Happy Birthday Mum!”

  1. Awww, damn.
    This is beautiful.
    Your Mum sounds really amazing.
    I’m thinking she is, judging by the wonderfully intelligent daughter she raised. 😉

    {{{hugs to mum}}}

    ~m

    Yes. Funny really, as kids we adore parents, then comes the ‘I’m never going to be like you’ which with times turns into ‘shit, I’m just like Mum’ to a hopeful ‘if only I can do as good as she did’. That’s the girly side at least. Seems I’m on my way! 🙂

  2. What’s that about the proverbial apple falling?
    Here’s to ya.

    Thank you. 🙂

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