Thursday, February 15, 2007

My mother's birthday











February is birthday month at The Pajama Gardener. Today would have been my mother’s 60th birthday. She died 15 years ago, and pictures of her can still make me cry. But they make me laugh too. These photos are just a few of her many incarnations. Clearly, we all have gone through some changes; that would be me with the groovy shag.

She and my father are so young in these pictures (my mother was just 16 and my father was only 18 when they had me--she is pregnant with me in the first photo, and I'm the littlest girl below her on the bike). I could have kids their age now. I want to reach into these pictures and pinch their apple cheeks, hold their unlined hands, tell them everything is OK. But I always felt more mother to my mother than mothered by her.

I try to imagine what it would be like if she was still here. At 60 she would still be lovely. Most assuredly, men young enough to be her sons would ask her to dance and men old enough to be her father would promise her she’d never have to work another day if she would just please baby baby please be theirs. She’d still be ready to rip and run (and shop and party and eat and drink) and leave sleeping for when you get old. She would still be great friends with all kinds of people: children, gamblers, dope men, lawyers, doctors, councilmen, ladies of the church, winos. She would be tickled to pieces by her grandchildren (and now one great-grandchild).

At 60, she would be changed by the change and would have learned all the lessons one learns from being on the earth 15 extra years. But she’d still call me to see if I was watching some show that wouldn’t air for another hour because she wouldn’t remember I was in a different time zone. She’d still ask “Is that what you’re wearing?” meaning “Please go and change.” She’d still watch me when we were together like she couldn’t get enough of looking at me. We’d still drive each other crazy and love each other deeply.

But she's not here, so I celebrate her without her. Over the years, to honor my mother's birthday I've lighted candles at the basilica, bought things I didn't need and drank tequila in a black lace mini-skirt. I'll spend part of today with the kids at the Head Start, trying to give them the love of reading she gave to me. And I'll spend part of the day editing my book about a daughter and the mother who drives her crazy and who she loves deeply.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh my, Carleen. You look just like your mom. I didn't realize how much.

J.

lafreya said...

wow what a wonderful tribute to your mom.

Maryann said...

Oh man, Carleen! I wish I would have checked your blog before we had lunch. What fun photos. And I'm sure your mom is smiling from ear-to-ear.

Leslie said...

I love reading about your Mom and seeing the photos. GREAT HAIR!!

Anonymous said...

How beautiful--I too have so many memories, but could never put the words to it! Thanks

Anonymous said...

How beautiful--I too have so many memories, but could never put the words to it! Thanks

Lisa said...

Thank you for sharing these great pictures. You have captured perfectly that feeling I too have when I wonder what things would be like now...

Bernice L. McFadden said...

U do look like her! That was lovely.

Yasmin said...

Wonderful tribute and may your mom RIP!
xoxo