Today, October sixteenth, would have been my mother’s eightieth birthday.
If you’ve been following, you already know she died of metastatic lung cancer over ten years ago.
I had planned to scatter her ashes in the ocean near the Atlantic City boardwalk today. It’s the only really good memory I have of my mom so it seemed fitting that AC was the proper place to do it. It’s only taken me a decade to decide on where to place her. Circumstances have unfortunately blocked me from carrying my plan through today so it will have to wait just a bit longer. Again.
Why Atlantic City?
About twenty years ago, we spent the day on the shuttle bus that drove us there. We gambled a little, stuffed ourselves (as New Jersey law dictates you must) at an “All You Can Eat” buffet lunch, and strolled the boardwalk with the sunshine on our faces. We told stories, laughed together, and even returned home with some winnings. (Ok, we broke even but that’s still winning, right?).
It will always be the happiest time I had spent with my mother.
Today I’m kind of at a loss. We had the rockiest relationship but she was still the only mother I had. I didn’t learn how to parent from her, but I surely learned how not to. I didn’t learn how to love from her, instead I learned how to keep people at a distance and not allow anyone to get close enough to hurt me.
Since I was a child, I have done absolutely everything I could to be nothing like her.
I now live in the house I grew up in.
I sleep in the room I spent years being mentally, physically and emotionally tortured in.
The room that is currently my daughter’s was my room growing up.
Thanks to illness and medication, I am currently wearing the same sized clothing that she wore at my age.
I thought she was fat.
I think even more awful things about myself.
I do not, have never, nor will I EVER hit my children.
I will never allow them to feel that they are anything less than the greatest blessings of my life.
I forbid to be trapped by my fears as she was-
Fear of heights? Learned to rock climb.
Claustrophobia? Certified rescue diver.
Terrified of roller coasters? Rode one fourteen times until I was able to release my death grip on the handles and fly down that first dip with my hair and hands waving in the air.
Afraid to love? Love people so completely that they fill my heart to capacity.
Afraid to trust? Still working on that one but when I do? I trust completely.
My mother shaped the person I have ultimately become by teaching me how not to live.
I have struggled to select the best way to commemorate her life.
I’m just going to enjoy it.
That alone will be enough.
Happy birthday, Mom.