Mom’s Birthday

Another year has flown by, and it’s Mom’s birthday again tomorrow. She would be 82 years old, imagine. When I was a teen, facing bouts of sadness, Mom would tell me, “Honey, life is too short. You turn around, and it’s half over.” I know now more acutely how right she was. Life flies by. And the older you get, the quicker it goes.

I awoke this morning to another knock on the door, this time at my bedroom. I answered, and again no one was there. Yesterday, as I was feeling sick, my Smilebox started up on the computer- which was several feet away. Up popped a creation I made, right to a picture of Mom and me. Underneath it said, “best friends.” Normally it would have taken me five separate clicks to access this particular page, but there it was all on its own. Right when I was feeling really, really sick. I know Mom is with me.

Tomorrow is her birthday, and I will bring flowers.

When Mom was first working at State Farm, a co-worker received some lovely flowers on her birthday. They were from her husband. Mom came home that evening and told me about them.

“Oh, they make a big ta-do about it. Your name is called over the speakers, ‘So n so, you have a delivery at the front desk.’ Then you leave your desk and walk up front to see what it is. Sometimes, if the girls at the front are at lunch, instead of announcing it, one of the kids from the mail room will walk it back to your desk.” Mom’s eyes started to fill up. “Oh…. shit,” Mom had never sworn when Dad was alive, but after we lost him she had unpacked a few mild swears from their hiding spot.

“What’s the matter?” I asked, but I already knew.

“You know, honey,” Mom reached for a tissue. “You know. You’re father’s not here- I don’t have to tell you that, do I?” Mom laughed in one of those sad-not-funny ways, her eyes still brimming with tears. “I’ll never be called to the front office for flowers. I’ll never be one of those girls who get flowers. That part of my life is over.”

I hugged Mom. And in Mom’s quieter moments, she loved a good hug. Her hugs were gentle and delicate. She would often pat my back during a hug, but this time she didn’t.

Luckily, Mom’s birthday landed in November- the same month as Beatlefest. Every year, I saved my lunch money, allowances, birthday money, and babysitting earnings for the Big Beatle Weekend. Just after Thanksgiving, it was my chance to splurge, to come away with as many George Harrison pictures as possible (we had no internet). Because of this, I had plenty of money in my bank account around November 9th, Mom’s birthday.

It took about fifty minutes to walk from my house to the bank. On the way home, I stopped by the Westlake Plaza and went into the corner florist. I told the lady that I wanted to have some flowers delivered to my Mom at work, and she showed me some design books. Most had fall colored arrangements, which were pretty, but not what I had in mind. I wanted something that would pop.

“I want something to look very country, but like the most beautiful summer day. I want it to look like someone just gathered a ton of summer wildflowers- the prettiest, softest looking flowers you can imagine… and there has to be some blue, which is my Mom’s favorite color.”

“I think I know what you want,” she smiled. There was no picture which exactly matched my idea, but I trusted her. We arranged for the delivery, and it was all set.

The day arrived. I will never in my life forget Mom’s face when she walked through the door after work that birthday evening!

“Oh, honey!” Mom exclaimed as she came in through the door. “Oh….. I can’t believe it!” Mom set the flowers down on the table. They were absolutely gorgeous. “They barely fit in the car! I had to put them on the passenger floor and scoot the seat back just to fit them!”

Mom came over to me with her arms open. “What am I going to do with you?” She smiled. We hugged. Mom pulled back to look at me, “You shouldn’t have….. but I’m glad you did!”

“Happy birthday!” I smiled. “I wanted you to have the best flowers. You’re the best, and you deserve the best flowers.” Mom was so happy.

“You wouldn’t believe it,” she began, “They came just after I got back from lunch. The girls in the front were gone. So you’ll never guess- one of the kids from the mail room walked them down to me- all through the aisles! They were so tall and beautiful, everyone was remarking. I saw them coming but never imagined they were for me! So he passed desk after desk after desk, and finally he stopped at mine! I thought he’d made a mistake, but there was the card with my name on it….. Oh, honey….”

Every year after that, I sent Mom flowers- always requesting something similar, something bright and happy, wild and wonderful- something with with a touch of blue, Mom’s favorite color.

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