My mama. Today is your 55th birthday. And the 28th birthday that I have the privilege of being your daughter.
You may remember the sappy, depressing teenage romance novels I read as a young girl, always centered around a youthful young woman with every promise of life before her, only to die of some rare, degenerative, juvenile disease. Of course she always had a boyfriend and was the star of her high school and oftentimes came from a poor socioeconomic home. There was one such character, Melissa, who was probably dying from leukemia, and her rich best friend (who drove around in a red convertible and laid by the pool all day), Jory, had anger issues with her best friend's disease and death. By the end of the story, Melissa had written Jory a letter. In in she wrote,
"Wrinkled and grey sounds good to me."
Those words have clung to me ever since. (See, life lessons can come from awful books.) Melissa understood the value of grey. She wasn't worried about crow's feet or smile lines on her face. In fact, she was dreaming of it, longing for the day to embrace the fact that she was old. Because that meant that she was living.
You, my mama, are almost all grey. You've had smile lines around your eyes ever since I can remember. And you've embraced it with every graceful year. You've never been too concerned with esthetics or looking a certain age. Until you became so grey, people frequently guessed you to be much younger than you actually are. Thank you for passing those genes along. :) Despite the grey and the wrinkles and the height difference, people know--without a doubt--that I am your daughter. You are my mother. Even just today, the spunky cashier exclaimed to us, "mother and daughter!" It's like people can't help themselves because we look so similar.
I've always favored you looks-wise. Dad spends long moments pausing at my high school graduation picture on the wall, probably because it reminds him of his youthful love, of the early days of your high school romance. And what I've come to realize is how much I yearn to look like you on the inside, too.
To have your patience,
your calm composure and responses to other people and circumstances that are not so patient.
To have your thoughtfulness,
the way you think of others when you see, when you create, when you share.
To have your positivity,
constantly looking for the good in seemingly frustrating and discouraging circumstances.
To have your beauty,
knowing that while outward appearance matters to some extent, a woman's beauty comes from inside,
how she treats others and cares for the world around her.
So on your 55th birthday, Mama, enjoy the most festive birthday cake you've ever had, the fireworks that are just for you, and the gift of aging.
I love you so very much, my Mama.