happy birthday Mom

Today my Mom would have been 76.

She lived a big life.

She drove a semi across state lines with no training, all for a bushel of nuts.

She beat the sun up most days of her life.

She drank her coffee with so much cream and sugar, it looked more like the remnant of a painter’s cup of cleaning water.

She spent every Sunday morning doing all of our laundry.

She gambled. First with pennies and quarters. But then as her bravery grew, so did the deposited coin. But always, always, she kept within her allotted budget.

She went after a man with a hammer because he threatened her. Once. Only once.

She ensured our van was packed with family and coolers of snacks to venture throughout the country. She might have forgotten her son-in-law at a gas station in Kentucky.  Maybe.

She was obsessed with chewing ice–the right kind of ice–and Lipton powdered ice tea.

She was a master at fixing vacuums.

She ate pounds of crabs legs, slathered in butter and “mmmmmms.”

She hated flowers. A fact she hid from my Dad for a while.

She overcame her fear of flying, visiting us in Colorado at least yearly.

She hunted for pennies in the parking lot as a child to buy food.

She laughed so hard she had to raise up her glasses and pat her eyes with tissues.

She taught me to speak up for what’s right.

She explored caves below the ground and fourteeners in the sky.

She loved to sit in the backyard under the warm Midwestern sun, with her sleeves rolled up to her shoulders. She never wore sunblock or sunglasses.

She loved Pacman and Bejeweled Blitz.

She refused to swim because her brother nearly drowned her as a kid.

She made the best homemade grape juice.

She watched my Dad die two deaths: the loss of his memory of a life spent with her, then finally the loss of a heartbeat.

She bought us groceries, as grown children, when we needed it. Or when we didn’t.

She played entire golf courses with a nine iron.

She loaded her ham with syrupy peaches at Golden Corral.

She escaped from charging bulls over West Virginia fences just. in. the. nick. of. time.

She made the world’s best peanut butter balls. And she wasn’t afraid to talk dirty about them.

She sewed the curtains in our kitchen.

She gave me my love of horses. When visiting West Virginia, she would race the neighbor’s horse down the street, all the while her Mom yelled two syllables from the porch in warning and fear: “Mi-ke!”

She was given the name Aletha, but known by Molly or Mike or Mom or MaMa.

She loved Dave as her own.

She collected bells, postcards and cookbooks from the 18th century. Or at least that’s what they looked like.

She turned her basement into an art studio.

She walked miles to school, barefoot, whilst cougars hovered in the trees looking. All the while her pet pig followed her, the same pet pig that soon became bacon for her family. She couldn’t eat it.

She rapped in our swing on our back porch.

She lived. A big life.

Happy birthday Mom.

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