Today my mom turns 63. Well, she would have if she was still here. Five years ago in January, she passed away from lung cancer. I won’t go into the details of the evils of cancer or how in some ways cancer of any kind makes me very angry. However, I will say that no matter what, I miss her. The fact that our birthdays are eight days apart makes it hard, especially this year. She would have been retirement age officially, something she’d have laughed at. Mom would have insisted on going on her Alaskan cruise with Dad, something she always wanted to do. (Personally, I think that’s nuts, but hey, that’s my mom. We have a lot of nuts in the family.) 

But today isn’t about tears, though I won’t say I’m not fighting them. Today is remembering the fun times. The days my sisters and I would sneak into her room with coffee trying to get her to sign papers with crappy grades without her fully being awake so she wouldn’t yell at us because she hadn’t had the second cup of happiness yet. It’s remembering her making jewelry for family and friends. That memory is what spurned my sisters and I to continue that tradition to this day. We all make jewelry of some type. I don’t think we will ever stop, though we all have our favourite kind to make. I also do the wire trees she used to make for friends and family. It takes a bit of doing with the arthritis and carpal tunnel, but I do it because to see the trees completed and put on a geode base or a slab of stone is something spectacular.

One of my favourite memories is when my mom made these eggs for others. I know you’re thinking, whatever, but my mom and I loved Faberge eggs. Okay I still do. My mom had found these huge plastic eggs that were hinged, some opened up and had a pedestal on the bottom. Another had petal hinges so they opened up on three sides. She painted them all so they looked enameled. Then she decorated the insides with mirror bases, then used Embroidery paints (gods I’m dating myself!) to make snow covered bushes and other details. Then she’d glue small animals for a winter scene, or if it was an Easter scene, she decorated it with lilies and other Spring flowers. That particular craft sticks in my mind because I still want to do this craft as an adult. I loved how beautiful they were and honestly, how like the Faberge eggs they were.

Just like her making candles for our teachers. I love candlemaking and I hate that I lost my candlemaking stuff when I moved to Florida. I need to start doing it again because it was fun, affordable and it is so easy to do. It also reminds me of my mom. Memories of her decorating the Christmas tree candles with drips of colours from crayons to give a special effect or using old Christmas cards to use on the outside of the candles to make special pillar candles amazes me still. Right now, I’m itching to get the molds, wax, scents and more to make candles. I loved those candles and bringing them to my teachers as I was growing up.

My mom would make us chop suey, not like the ground beef and macaroni stuff most people think of, but a dish made with stew cut pieces of beef, onions, peppers and broth with white rice. *sigh* I loved her chop suey in my tiny brown bowl. It’s still one of my favourite dishes. To me, that’s chop suey and always will be. I laugh when I see fudge because it reminds me of my mom making fudge and eating most of it so she needed to make a second batch for everyone else. Or the time she and my sister were goofing off and she pushed my sister’s face into the cake with sprinkles on the frosting. My sister and I still talk about that day.

I’m not saying my mom was perfect. There were times when my mom was hard to get along with, out in her own world when we needed her. No parent is ever perfect. But when they die, you learn that as much as the bad things happened in the past, you learn to let a lot of it go. Or at least make some sort of peace with it. There are things I wish hadn’t have happened, things I wish I could have fixed for her so she could have been happier, so she would have been more with us, but some of it was up to her to do. So, I’ve made it a point right now to focus on the good, focus on the positive memories.

Happy Birthday, Mom. Today you’re officially a retiree. You’re still loved and missed by all of us. Every book I write, I think about you. Sometimes, I laugh because I know I can still hear you saying, “I know I didn’t teach you about that when we talked about the birds and the bees.” I miss our reading talks too. I miss your cheerleading me on with my writing. I miss that you haven’t met my fiance. You’d love him to pieces. You really would. Most of all, I miss all the fun we had when things were going well. Happy Birthday, Mom. May your memory live on forever.