lesson learned: don’t forget to celebrate

maobxThink Kit Day 14: Did you get any good advice or learn a valuable lesson this year? Was it expected or unexpected, easy or tough?

This is something I wrote back in early October but I found it to be a perfect fit for the #thinkkit prompt.  Your parents really never stop teaching you lessons even after they have passed.

Today I woke my son to the usual birthday hoopla.  Today is your birthday…it’s almost mine too yeah.  I sing it every year from the crazy song that is embedded in everyone’s brain.  We had just had a weekend of celebration somewhat rolling both our birthdays into one.  He got away with not picking his clothes up off the floor, leaving candy wrappers on the counter, and staying up way too late.  A dream weekend for any 14 year old boy.  I learned it from my mother.  “Your day” is special and whatever you want to do is how it will be.

It was one year ago, my mom asked me if this was going to be the last birthday we would celebrate my birthday together.  Of course, in my best optimistic voice, I told her of course not.  There will be many more to come. For those of you that know me and my mom, yes, I believe the spiritual something in the universe was participating in our conversation.  She knew it.  I knew it.  But neither one of us would admit it.

I arranged to have dinner with my mom in the hospital.  My sister picked up prime rib for us both.  The nurses had set up a little table in her room so we could feel as though we were in a restaurant and not bedside in her hospital room.  We laughed until we were in tears as we ate prime rib with our fingers after we learned that plastic silverware just wouldn’t work on prime rib.

I had celebrated every birthday with my mother, even when I didn’t live in town with her.  She always had a way of making “your day” special.  Maybe that’s where I learned it from and why it is so important to celebrate my son’s.  She never made a big deal about her own birthday but she was adamant that “your day” was celebrated.

Even as an adult, I knew the first phone call of my day would be Ma.  She would jubilantly say “happy birthday” into the phone and then would attempt to sing even though she was tone deaf and couldn’t carry a tune.  It was how I started my morning.  It was the way it was.  It was wonderful.  I would shake my head and laugh.  She was a nut.

Once I turned 21, I started a new tradition with her.  I would go out and buy her flowers.  One stem for every year of my age.  When the number got too high, a big bouquet of bursting colors would suffice.  We would laugh and count the stems, the petals, the leaves…whatever we had to count to get to my age.  It was my gift to her for bringing me into this world.

This upcoming birthday will be different for me.  It will be the first year without my mom’s phone call.  I know that I will wake up and have ‘my day’ and appreciate all the well wishes, but the one thing I will miss, will be that phone call.  I’m not sure why this day conjures up so much sadness.  I have been through a Christmas, her birthday, and Mother’s Day, without her.  But deep in my heart, I know …this day is personal.

While I fight back the tears thinking she will not be here in body, I know that she is with me in spirit.  Her phone call may not ring on my cell, but her sentiment will still be heard.  Her flowers will still be delivered, just to a different location.

Each day we have the opportunity to create special memories whether they are for family, friends, or even let’s face it, even strangers.  Don’t miss out on that chance.  Make each day count.  I will cherish all the memories of how she made my day special.  Thank you, Ma, for teaching me the meaning of celebrating one’s birthday.


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