We're down-sizing our homes and up-sizing our lives!
Tuesday, June 02, 2020
Boomers are booming!

Happy Birthday Mom!

Image goes here.


     I never liked birthdays very much. When you think about it, you’re celebrating getting one year older.

     As a child, I longed for my 18th birthday. Each year I would think to myself that I was one year closer to that magic birthday...the birthday in when I would be, in my mind, an adult. The reality is that turning 18 is a long way from becoming an adult.

     As the years have come and gone, I increasingly realize that becoming an adult is not just about chronological age, but it’s also much more about maturity and wisdom. It was many years beyond my 18th birthday before I begin to truly become a mature adult.

     Having no brothers or sisters prevented me from realizing some of life‘s requirements as I grew up in a home with parents who did not have a lot of formal education. My mother graduated from high school in Edmonson County, Kentucky. She was one of those children who rode her horse part of the way to school before catching a school bus for the duration of the trip. My father attended public school through the eighth grade at a community one room school for children first grade through high school.
     I was blessed to be able to complete three graduate degrees during my lifetime. I recall my mother telling me as a young child that I would go to college and get an education. My mother believed somehow that college was the source of a true education. Maybe for a while I agreed to that. But now as a retired adult I look back on my formal education and recognize that much of my practical education was gained outside of the academic classroom.  Nonetheless, my parents wanted me to attend college.

     I received a significant scholarship to enroll in college. My parents had very limited financial resources. They helped me pay for the what the scholarship did not cover by making sacrifices themselves so that I could attend. I lived at home since that made the cost of college much less.

     I know now that while I lived at home and attended college, my mother continued to be a source of my ongoing learning. She emphasized self-esteem and self-confidence. She knew that these were areas of deficit for me as a child and teenager. She was my greatest cheerleader.

     My mother insisted that I not only get a college degree but also understand the basic information necessary to be self-sufficient. She made sure I learned to cook, do the laundry and make my own bed. Other requirements included learning to drive a stick shift and balancing the checkbook. She demanded that I treat ladies and girls with the highest level of respect. I am grateful for the education my mother passed on to me.

     During the latter years of my mother’s life, her personality begin to change. She was always a cut-up and continued to use her humor as a way of covering what was becoming more apparent as cognitive deficits. She experienced a condition called “sundowning” in the late afternoon.  When this happened, my father would call me on the phone and ask me to talk to her.  She would be confused about taking care of “the children“.  She was the oldest of six children, and I concluded that somehow in the late afternoons she would think her self again the caregiver to her younger siblings. I would try to help my mother understand that she had no children to take care of any longer.  Some days she would settle down and some days she would not.

     My mother and  father were married almost 57 years. My father died on June 12, 2001. My mother died suddenly about two weeks later as a result of an undiagnosed heart attack. Yesterday, November 27th was my mother's 100th birthday.  I cannot imagine my mother at that age, but I’m sure were she still alive and with her mentality as a younger woman, she would laugh and joke about having lived such a long life.

     Some days I miss her a lot. Some days I do not think of her at all. Today I think of her with regret that I could not say, “Happy 100th birthday, Mom!  I love you!”