February 8th has always been a special day for me. It was my mother's birthday. Had she lived, today would have been her 70th. THAT is hard to imagine! My mother passed away on June 26, 2005.
I can remember doing some pretty outlandish things over the years in order to celebrate a day that I think meant more to me than it did to her. The one that sticks out the most to me today is my mother's 27th birthday. For heaven's sake! 27 was only three years away from 30 and, in my young mind, turning 30 must have been a devastating thing! It meant somehow passing from youth and vitality into old age oblivion overnight! (Now I have a children who are crossing that threshold from youth into "old age", and oh! How I long to be there again myself! The 30-somethings were actually some of the best years of my life!)
Anyway, in order to help my mother jump this hurdle and somehow make it easier on her, in my 7-year-old mind I had to find some spectacular way to mark it's passage! Never being one to shy away from talking about my feeling when my passions run high, I went to the only person that I felt could help...my second-grade schoolteacher! She was old (much older than my mother)! She would understand! And she did!
My wonderful, old teacher asked me kindly, "What's something that your mother would really like?" That was easy! My mother loved birds! That wonderful old teacher (if I remember correctly her name was Mrs. Strubbar), called a halt to our regular class activities that day and for an impromptu art project had everyone in the class make "Mrs. Brown" a bird for her birthday! I got to take the packet home with me that night and present it to my mother in honor of her birthday upon arrival...along with a solemn promise that "no matter how old she got" in my mind I'd never let her get past the age of 29!
That 43-year-old packet of bird cut-outs and drawings still lay in the bottom of my mother's trunk and those precious memories of a wonderful teacher and room full of classmates working together to make my mother's birthday special still remain fresh in my heart and mind.
Here's to you, Mom! Happy 29th (70th) Birthday!