In 1978 I had my "golden birthday"....17 on the 17th. My mother gave me a small book covered in gold leaf. Inside for every date there were quotes from Longfellow's works and a place to write names of loved ones who held birthdays on those days. The true gift was tucked inside: a letter from my mother.
It may not be quite legible here in this place; those lovely sentiments of sweetness and love given to me that day. But I know what it says and I cherish her words, both with that teenage girl heart of years ago and with the heart of the woman I am today. Besides...the letter really isn't the point. My mother is.
There were six children growing up in our home. I am the 5th, the baby girl. My mother spun our world with her genuine heart, her special songs, her kind and gentle spirit and her love for beauty. We had home-grown flowers, always....and paintings on the walls. Many of these she did herself in the midst of raising children and helping my father on the farm. She knit, sewed, baked, gardened, washed clothes in an old wringer machine, sang, gave, felt, loved. We were treated as individuals with our own talents and personalities and our dreams were inspired, encouraged and embraced.
In the days when many women roll their eyes at their mother's comments, dread maternal visits and fear "sounding like their mother", I feel fortunate, lucky, blessed to spend time with a woman who at 78, is the youngest - and most beautiful - woman I know. I am honored to be my mother's daughter.
I've had my moments over the years, made my share of mistakes....and I'm not sure that today I deserve those lovely words of 1978...nor her compliments now. But a mother's love is unconditional. It isn't about whether we've let them down or made them proud. There's no way to earn it and many times we probably don't deserve it. But when it comes from a woman of grace, a woman of God...there are no restrictions, no prerequisites. With a mother such as mine, it just is.