While she was alive my mother’s running joke was that every four years she celebrated her birthday with a parade. It was a fun joke because no matter the party in power, inaugurations were always a celebration of a future full of hope.
This year, things are very different. Rather than focus on the fear or dread, I am taking her joke to heart and only celebrating my mom’s birthday today.
In honor of that celebration, I want to list all the reasons why I am honored and grateful to have been raised by my mom.
She is the direct opposite of the man who will march in the parade today.
That’s it. That’s the list.
My mother was honest.
I am not sure she was capable of lying, even when maybe she should have because our feelings would have been spared. For the record mom, I never needed you to point out my pimples or bad bangs. I already knew, but thanks for your honesty.
My mother was kind.
To everyone. She did not choose only a few who were worthy of her kindness. She may not always agree with you but she never viewed disagreements as reasons for hate.
Tolerance was not a word my mother understood.
Full acceptance was.
She grew up in Northern California, where people who did not look like her were literally walled off for being different. She moved to DC just in time for her husband to stick his nose into race relations as the city burned.
She taught me, that we all have the same hearts. She didn’t say that means we are the same. She didn’t think we shouldn’t “see color”.
Instead she taught us that we should see our differences, embrace them, and learn from them. Above all, we should love each other, not in spite of our differences, but because of them.
She taught us we were capable of anything but never better than anyone.
She was subtle about this. She wasn’t a marcher or a loud advocate (that we get from our dad). She simply just kept her doors open and reached out to anyone and everyone that was near, especially when they needed her most.
My mother was humble.
You had to dig pretty hard to get her to admit to any accomplishment in her life. I wish she had taken more credit for who she was.
She was brave, and strong and so loving (even in her brutally honest way). She literally and figuratively made me who I am and pressed me to be a better person every day that she was here and every day since she’s been gone.
It’s been so long, that you think it would not still be so hard. And yet, as the world spins in chaos, my kids’ needs for me to be strong, and courageous, honest, humble and kind grow in direct relation to their years on earth.
I miss her more than ever before. She was my true north. I looked to her for guidance even when she tried to assure me I could I do it on my own.
She may have been right, I have been doing ok here without her. It seems I can do it on my own, but I wish I didn’t need to prove that today.
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