Happy 80th

Today is my mothers 80th birthday. She’s celebrating it in heaven. It IS her birthday, the day she was born. I hear people say, “it would have been” a loved one’s birthday once they have passed and I don’t understand this way of thinking. The day you were born, is the day you were born, that doesn’t change because you pass on (all these years later, I still find it so difficult to use the words died, dead when referring to my mom, they are too harsh for such a beautiful person). I miss so many things about her, it would be impossible to list them all. Today I am especially missing what I never had and never will have, if that is even possible- it certainly feels like it is. I am missing watching her grow into an even funnier old lady than she was, one who’s misquotes of common sayings was legendary ( “this car rides like a glove” comes to mind immediately, but there are tons more). I’m sure her unique sense of style- the more colors the better- would have only gotten more creative. Going through her closet years ago, I was struck by all of the colors and patterns, and mostly how no two were the same!! I’m sure she would be ahead of the curve on what’s coming into fashion- she owned a fur vest long before they became popular, and even if she wasn’t she would certainly be acting as if she was- “it’s in style, you’ll see” she would say, as she sauntered into the room in capri pants with martini’s on them in one of her favorite way too bright colors with a flowered print top that kind of sort of matched. “Kind of sort of”. What a great saying, she would say it right before “but I had a coupon” .

I’m missing what she might look like today, She let her hair go gray, but I’m sure by now it would be snow white, and gorgeous. The women in my family are famously short and, like everyone, get shorter with age. I’m missing how tiny she would be getting and how sweet it would feel to hug her smaller frame, to swallow her up in my arms as she did for me a million times, ensuring that safety and love were just a hug away. I’m missing not being able to give that feeling back to her.

I’m missing what the banter might be like between my her and my father. How they might tease about which one of them was getting nuttier with age (it’s him, there would never be a real contest about that, but he would have given her a real run for her money in this tease-off). I wonder if they would still travel, or just be content with being home. She would want to be home.

Yesterday one of my sisters and I were talking about what the celebration of her 80th might have looked like. Would it be a big splash? I thought about that after we talked and I think not. We had a big surprise party for her for her 50th and 60th, and I think she secretly (not so secretly) didn’t love that. When she turned 70 she wanted “just the family” and I suspect 8o would be much the same. We would all gather in some Italian restaurant – I would hope Roberto’s II- we would eat antipasto first, pasta secondi, veal or chicken or salmon next, salad last. We would have a Rispoli Canoli cake that said ” Happy 80th Birthday, Mom”. My sisters and I would complain amongst ourselves that we were once again in a dark Italian restaurant eating pasta. We would drink wine and toast to her, we would all say what we loved about her the most and she would finish it off with a toast to her family. A perfect day by any and every measure.

I always do something that reminds me of my mother on this, her birthday. Today I’m going to wear as many colors as possible even though my entire wardrobe consists of denim, navy and white- and some grey. I’ll spend the day remembering how absolutely wonderful she was, and I’ll be feeling the loss that comes from missing what would have been.

Happy 80th Birthday, Glo- I love you.

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