Happy Birthday Mom…

Today would have been my beautiful mother’s 83rd birthday. I write this post in her honor.

Birthdays, as with Christmas, were always a big deal in our home. Since I don’t have a family of my own, and mom spent the last several years living with me, I always did something big for her birthday. On both her 75th and 80th, we had a surprise party for her. Both of which were really awesome and she was very surprised (especially at her 75th party). My mom had moved around and seen many places in the US throughout her life, growing up in Detroit and then Western Michigan before moving to Ft Lauderdale, then to Oceanside, California (between LA and San Diego) before returning to the West Coast of Florida and meeting my dad. We traveled occassionally throughout my lifetime as well. But one place that my mom had never visited and always wanted to see was Savannah, GA. Don’t ask me why a Northern city girl had this on her list but she did so for her 81st birthday, I booked a long weekend at the Savannah Riverfront Marriott, called a couple friends to meet us and off we went.

It turned out to be a great weekend. On the night of her birthday, we had dinner at the Chart House and they put a happy birthday message to her on the menu. It took her a few minutes to notice it but when she did she laughed and said “Jennifer! Did you do this?” I had nothing to do with it so I told her no, I wish it had been my idea but it wasn’t. The service at the dinner wasn’t the best but the food was amazing, the company too, and everyone had a great meal. We took a cab to dinner, so we could all share some bottles of wine with the meal, and the same cab driver returned to get us. On the way back, she drove us through River Street so mom could get the full experience without having to walk through all the partiers and then she sang Happy Birthday to mom (loudly) in the car. At the end of the song, my mom, all smiles, turned to me and said “You better give her a good tip,” (which I happily did). Once back at the hotel, she stayed up with us at the hotel bar till after midnight. The bar tender handing her free birthday drinks probably helped and everyone who asked how old she was, couldn’t believe it when her answer was 81. (She not-so-secretly loved that no one ever guessed her age and it kept her youthful spirit shining through until the very end, even as she laughed and joked with the nurses in the ICU about what a life she’d had.) After she went to the room, my friends and I went out for the night and the next day, we all packed up and headed home. She thanked me again and again and said she couldn’t wait to see what we were going to do the next year, as her birthday celebrations just got better and better.

A year later, one year ago today, we spent her birthday in the hospital making plans for a birthday celebration when she came home. She wanted to go to the beach, after all that was home. I remember her saying that she just wanted to feel the sand in her toes. I promised her that she would. We even picked out the kind of cake she would have (kind of a tradition and this year she wanted lemon.) I had no idea that I would be saying goodbye to her only four days later. I realize that many people would say that I was extremely fortunate to have nearly 39 very full years with my mom and I agree. However, today I wish we were celebrating number 83 with a party, a fabulous trip or just a yummy cake and some wine.

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