She wasn’t about to let us forget

Lori Clinch

My dear and precious mother has been busily making preparations for her favorite day of the year — her birthday. This year was a significant birthday. I know this because she called and told me so. She started calling me six months before the big day, a week ahead of it and every hour on the hour the day before.

“We will want to have a big and fantastic celebration for my birthday this year,” she said when she phoned me last winter.

“How would that be different from any other year?” I snidely asked.

“Oh, this one is huge!” she said as she ignored my tone. “You’ve got to realize this year is a very important event.” Her voice was reminiscent of a child speaking of Christmas. “We’re going to want to do it up right.”

Each phone call was a countdown, and each and every event that occurred during the time leading up to her birthday was regarded by the approximation of how close it was to the big event.

“November?” she once exclaimed, “Why, that’s just months before my birthday.” “Oh, you want to have lunch next week? Why, we couldn’t possibly make that date; there are only a few months left before my birthday. There’s just too much to do.”

She all but put a time clock on the front lawn counting down the minutes.

She clued me in when it was “sneaking up on us” and informed me it was, and I’m quoting, “time to get the ball a rollin’ with my party,” last November. “So we make a few phone calls,” I said in response to her disgust that I hadn’t yet come up with a birthday theme while pulling the Christmas brisket out of the oven.

“But time is of the essence,” she proclaimed. “Organizing big parties takes planning and forethought, and I know you kids will want to celebrate my big day in style.”

Now there are some mothers who don’t want gifts of any sort — so I’ve heard. They have all they need, their knickknack shelves are stocked up, and if they got just one more item to dust they would snap.

Not so with Mom. While she would loathe the idea of poodle salt and pepper shakers, she wouldn’t mind vintage jewelry, flowers for her garden, or a gift card for a manicure. In fact, I believe she might have mentioned that a time or two.

With the big day approaching, I phoned the cousins, lined up the aunts, made a list and checked it twice. I wrapped her presents, prepared her favorite foods and put out the nice crystal.

When I walked into the room yesterday, she was already seated in her place of honor. She was dressed in beautiful colors, her hair was fresh from the salon, and she looked positively radiant.

“It’s my birthday!” she said.

“Today is your birthday?” I said just to tease her. “I thought it was next week!” But then I took a moment to appreciate her. She had such a glow and she appeared to be the happiest woman in the world. She was nothing short of delightful.

I then thought about how lucky I am to have her. Her wisdom exceeds her time, her patience is never-ending, and her love for her children is immeasurable.

She lifts my spirit, boosts my morale and warms my heart.

I hope, with all that I am, that I have been half the mother to my children that she is to me. I hope I have comforted them enough when they are sad, given them compassion when they are upset, and celebrated their milestones and successes as if they were my own, and that I can continue to do that throughout their adult lives.

And when my birthday rolls around, I need to make darn sure they celebrate it.

One thing is for sure: if I can be half the mother that my mom is to me, I’ll be doing just pretty darn good.

Happy significant birthday, Mom. Lori Clinch is the mother of four sons and the author of the book “Are We There Yet?” You can reach her by sending an email to [email protected].