Our family was always small (entire Father’s side missing) but what we lacked in size we made up for in intensity, feeling and celebration. For as long as I can remember, holidays were special with birthdays not only serving as time markers but more importantly as halcyon moments-Mother’s Birthday and all our birthdays were celebrated in wonderful, if not costly manners.
Ours was an “all girl” crew headed by “The General” AKA as my Nana with my Mom, Adjunct General next in the pecking order followed, certainly not least by- Nancy Carol Neely, our beloved Aunt Nanc…Co-conspirator in all thinks fun so long as they were not injurious. She was a dancing maniac often jiving to the tune of some pop song then on the radio we were all singing like mad fiends at the tops of our voices in our make believe Top 40 production.
My sister and I often reminisce about those days and smile. Our celebrations were of the nature that cannot be bought at any price. My Mom, the consummate homemaker, decor designer with a far more challenging budget before her than any contemporary paid designers from that day to this had been working on “the set” also known as our home for days making it beautiful. All her considerable talents had been brought to bear in decorating for the upcoming birthday celebration. This was inclusive of but not limited to determining and shopping for the menu dedicated exclusively as a tribute to “the birthday girl.” There were signs all over the house wishing them a very special day, reminding them of the day of the week they were born, the story of their day, the hour of their arrival moment and their favorite colors were used as a personalized tribute to the birthday celebration. In short, we were blessed with far more than money could possibly buy. We were freely provided with the kinds of celebrations money simply cannot buy. We were blessed with a “worker of magic” on a labor of love who not only expected your very best always (no excuses-ever), believed in your special qualities when you seemed quite ordinary, cheered for your victories and also really valued your innate qualities enough that she quite simply demanded all your best and more. At times, it was past daunting and often one fell short.
November 15 is my Mom’s birthday. This year will be our second one without her. My head is alive with her words, her voice resonates in my memory always. At 59 years old when fatigue or carelessness would tempt me to render less than my best efforts on any project….I hear her still saying that she knows that I would not want anyone to see or hear whatever the faulty work is- really believing this was my best ….because I know it is not and I begin again. No general, or second in command ever generated any more loyalty, dedication to purpose and interest in the mission than our women did. The like of them…this world will not see again. I will though and on that day my “lonlies” will depart and I will be filled with joy.