Cheap Hallmark Moment

Katharine Miller

It was the worst of times and it was the even worst of times. Then my mother was born and all the pain and suffering in the world was blamed on her. The woman destined to be a saint has, throughout her life, pushed forward to live by her life's creed and "do what she has to do." And boy has she done it.

My mother has been through the bowels of hell and continues to maintain a summer home there. She has fought to gain independence, both personally and financially, never quite gaining either, but continuing forth. She has resisted change, but learned to accept it gracefully. She is able to forgive and forget. We blame this on Alzheimer's. She may be slowing down, but she's still got a fire in her belly. That may well be acid reflux at work. Mom, get thee to an apothecary!

But how has she affected me? For one, she's my mother, so she has affected me in the most obvious way. My mother has been the driving force in my life, always carting me back and forth around town, to the mall, and educational institutions, complaining about it all the way down the road. She has pushed me to accomplish great things in my life. Granted, she pushed in the opposite direction. Without her pushing, I might not have rebelled and become what I am and what I am becoming today.

Most of all, my mother has inspired me with her strong will and independence. She has taught me much in the ways of life. From silly novelty songs to how to cook without burning the house down, she's been there. Like a phoenix from the ashes, she has risen from the worst battles only to move on down the road. My mother has survived three failed marriages, her parents and two of her own. She tied herself down twice to men undeserving of her time and affection. One husband, a struggling radio DJ always in search of the clap, received a round of gonorrhea instead. The other, my father, was a workaholic with a weakness for wreckers and women. The only piece of advice I could pick up from him about life and love was, "Always have a spare." But my dear mother advocates, "If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself."

She's brought two daughters into adulthood, kicking and screaming all the way. But she raised us decent, she raised us with manners, and she raised us from a second floor apartment.

For her birthday, we're always scrambling around for some trinket or bauble to adorn her, mostly out of guilt. But no trinket and no bauble could ever celebrate and give thanks to the one person who's been there since the very beginning and didn't give up (though not for lack of trying). So, Mom, while I can't erect a statue in your honor (as you wouldn't be happy with the likeness of you), this is the best I can do for you. May we have many more birthdays with you, whether you remember them or not, and may we continue to annoy you with our petty efforts.

© Katharine Miller

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