Happy Birthday, Grammy

Today is my Mom’s birthday; she would have been 78 years old today.

She passed away quite unexpectedly almost seven years ago. I think about and miss her every single day of my life.

BBBday

Here are a few pics of Grammy (as she came to be called after her grandchildren arrived) and my big mug, too. I wish I had better pictures of my Mom. She hated having her picture taken – she was never happy with how she looked. I wish she could have known just how beautiful a woman she was…

My Mom had a not-so-great early life. The details are unimportant now, but she battled (I think) with moderate depression for much of her life. The one thing that DID bring her great joy? Her children, and her grandchildren. She loved us all unconditionally and – speaking only for myself – I am not sure that love was always deserved, yet she lavished it on all of us. She also loved my Dad like crazy, was a devoted friend and a crazy cool Mom. I loved her all my life – still do. She taught me to be loving and forgiving, accepting and tolerant, caring and embracing. She encouraged my creative side and was herself a talented artist – maybe not in a “museum” sense, but she was a killer doodler and quite honestly had the most beautiful, expressive handwriting of anyone I have ever known. Grammy was funny and sensitive. She could cuss like a sailor and cry when she saw some random cat that had been hit by a car.

My Mom stayed home with us till my little sister started school, then returned to work. She worked in a large department store for more than twenty years, went on to work at IBM (clerical position) and eventually worked part-time at our hometown drugstore/gift shop. She maintained a close circle of girlfriends that treated us like their own children – it was kinda’ great growing up, thinking my “Mom was cool and had cool friends, too.” My Mom ALWAYS supported every choice I made – even when they were bad ones. People might think that makes her a bad parent but – to the contrary – she let me find my own path, most times cheering me along from the sidelines but more than a handful of times, picking my broke-down self up and making me feel good again.

Grammy kicked ass. She is my Angel and, although I HATE her not being her with me, I know she watches over me. And that makes me feel loved and safe. Grammy ALWAYS made me feel loved and safe. And isn’t that what being a GREAT parent really is all about?

So, yeah, I am a little sad today, thinking about my Mom/Grammy and missing her a bit more than usual. But I am happy that she was/is my Mom, and feel blessed by that fact.

I try not to dwell in sadness too much so today my siblings and I, and Grammy’s grandchilden, all celebrated her memory in a special way. My Mom LOVED McDonald’s ice cream. L-O-V-E-D. (“Best 50 cents you can spend!” she used to say). So in Grammy’s honor, we all took time to enjoy a vanilla soft serve cone from Mickey D’s today.

Besides that fact that Grammy loved these cones, they are a lot like Grammy herself:

So sweet, so enjoyable, so perfect and – sadly – gone all too soon…

Happy Birthday, Mom! I hope today has been great for you. I love and miss you. A lot. Your loving son, Tim

Butterflies

Today is my older sister’s birthday; well, it was my older sister’s birthday but she isn’t celebrating birthdays any more, at least not here on earth. Jeannie (my sis) passed away a couple of years ago now. I still miss her, just like I miss my Mom, my grandmother (Mommo) and my Mom’s only sister, my Aunt Judy (AJ).

My Mom was from Tennessee. I spent many, many summers there as a child, and my older sister grew up there – don’t ask, our family is kinda’ complicated. Anyway, all these beautiful women always all lump together in my head, all my “Southern Belles.” Each was an incredible woman in her own way and together, well, the dynamic when they were all assembled in the same room was amazing.

I loved every one of them. And they all loved me back. I miss them.

My aunt AJ (great aunt, technically) passed away first, then my Mommo, then my Mom and finally Jeannie. With each passing, a little bit of my heart died too, but we “always made it through.” And – weird as this sounds – as each one of these lovely women passed away, the remaining ones swore that the departed ones “appeared” to them as butterflies. In fact, at my sister’s memorial, someone sent live butterflies to be released graveside after the service. The odd truth is that, after the butterflies were released, most of them circled the people gathered there and just sort of flitted around and “hung out.” Several theories were put forth as to why this happened – they smelled the ladies’ perfume, they were disoriented after release, they wanted to hang in the shade – so many explanations.

I think they were maybe being directed by my Mom, my Mommo and AJ, helping guide my sister Jeannie across…

butterfliesSo yeah, anyway – today? As I was outside the store, checking to see if it was going to rain, I glanced over at this huge planter in front of our window and there it was, a small white butterfly. As I walked towards it, I grinned as it just sat there on a flower, opening and closing its wings ever so slowly, luring me closer… I smiled.

small whiteWhen I got almost close enough to touch it, the butterfly opened its wings fully and just stopped. It looked so beautiful, the bright white wings against the rich foliage. I smiled again, then looked around, made sure no one could hear me, and asked,

“OK, which one are you? Jeannie? Mom? Mommo? AJ?”

The butterfly opened and closed its wings twice – probably some sort of cryptic butterfly “code” I do not understand – then lifted up off the flower and flitted away. I stood and watched it until I couldn’t see it any more. And then I smiled one more time.

Happy Birthday, Sis! I hope know you four are celebrating today… I’m glad.