Today you turn 91.
In my wildest dreams, I never thought I would live to see the day when I was 51 and you were still here at 91. How thankful and blessed I am to have you still here in my life.
I remember the days we used to pass notes to each other that comprised mostly of:
I love you … do you love me?
Yes or Yes
I don’t know the last time I sat down and wrote you a letter, however, something about your turning 91 raised the need to make it clear what you mean to me.
Expressing the words I truly want to say would be like trying to fill Waimea Canyon with sand, one half cup at a time.
But I am going to give it a try.
I look at myself and have to admit some of my most admirable qualities, I get from you. Even some which irritate me so. ::giggle::
All of these qualities have shaped me into the person I am today. It serves me well in my current mission, helping people discover the power in themselves to keep moving forward.
If I boiled down what you have given me to just one sentence, this would be it:
Keep moving forward.
But you know me better than that. Why say in just three words when I can say it in more than 1000. ::giggle::
So as is my way, let me bullet point these qualities, (in no particular order):
- Optimistic: I love this about myself. I tend to find the good in everything and everyone. Sometimes we have had words about how I am always on so and so’s side. If I am, it’s because you taught me to passionately believe in “things will always get better”. Things include people.
- Cheerful: People who make me laugh are one of my most favorite things in the world; and I can laugh pretty darn easily. You can hear a joke over and over again and each time it’s like the very first time you heard it. You are the perfect audience and your laugh is infectious. Over the years I have seen how family has actually made it their mission to make you smile. You have a gorgeous smile. People say my smile is one of my best qualities; if it is, I get it from you.
- Trusting: Your kids (yes, me included) have sometimes accused you of being gullible because you will believe in almost anything crossing your path. However, when I delve deeper, I have to admit that core quality is trust. You trust what is being conveyed is what is promised. I am with you on this.
- Independent: Oi vea. I should have written FIERCELY independent. HA! Unlike my siblings, who have seen you live in a two parent household, my entire experience with you has been as a single working mother (that is until your stroke). Whether that is good or bad is not important. It is what it is. What it taught me was to take care of myself and not be dependent on anyone in order to make it in this world. This has served me well during various times in my life, especially now.
- Content: I struggled with naming a quality describing your awesome modeling of NOT being attached to anything, except family. I find it glorious that things don’t matter to you. Picking up and moving meant getting rid of everything (except clothes and paper) then getting new when we arrived. Is content a good word? I don’t know, but it fits. Except for family, I am so NOT attached to anything. The numerous times I have moved, usually was with whatever could fit in the back of my vehicle. Oh, and I am still working on my paper attachment. I don’t thank you for that. ::giggle::
- Tenacious: For decades, I have heard this word used to describe you. So much so, if I had to choose just one word describing you, this one would be it. I can only hope I have a smidgeon of this quality. When you believe in something or someone, you cling to that belief as if your life depended on it. I am still working on this one. You have 40 years ahead of me so maybe by the time I am 91, I can be as tenacious as you.
- Survivor: Can this actually be described as a quality? In any case, just by being you, this has taught me to never let anything bring me down. I can’t spend too much thinking about your burns and hospital stay in 2008, or I will curl up in a ball and weep for days. What I do concentrate on is your incredible will to survive, despite all the cards stacked against you. What an awesome example to never give up. You rawk, Mom!
- Sarcastic: Ok, some might think this isn’t a very good quality. Every single one of us kids has this unique ability; and since we don’t share the same fathers; it just HAD to come from you. No matter what people think, sarcasm works well for our family. On more than one occasion, sarcasm has turned an ugly situation into laughter. I know our family is not unique, however, I don’t think I have ever witnessed a group of people who can fight so intensely (that Portuguese temper!) and in the next moment shed tears and make up. That is all you, Mom.
- Experienced: Oh gosh, Mom. When I think of all you have witnessed in your 91 years, I get overwhelmed. Couple that with how you take each change in your life time with grace simply AMAZES me. You sit day after day with your iPad 3 by your side and an iMac G5 in front of you. You have more electrical gadgets in your room than most teenagers and you came from a time with no electricity. That boggles my mind. I still have much to learn in the how to change with grace department. You have provided an excellent model to follow. I am watching.
I could go on and on and on. This is just the tip of the iceberg of what I have learned from you over my lifetime and to get to where you are today. I have another 40 years to perfect it. I only hope I can make you proud.
Mom, you are amazing. I am so blessed to have a Mom that is still gracing this earth with her presence. I thank the Lord above every day you recognize me when I walk into your room. That we can still laugh. Or cry. Or fight. Or share the fact of how happy we are we don’t have men in our lives (I LOVE THAT WE SHARE THIS!).
I know I am an enigma. I know I have my quirks. I know I make you crazy sometimes.
But thank you for being there, listening to my rants, and putting up with me.
Family is everything, you taught me that, and how wonderful it is that our family is still together after all these years.
That’s all because of you, Mom.
I love you.
Your Baby Girl
Note: Please understand that my Mom does not celebrate birthdays. Thank you.