Today would be my Mom’s 61st Birthday. The other day, it was her good friend Margaret’s birthday and on her Facebook status she posted, “My dear friend Barb taught me to truly celebrate and honor (not grieve) every birthday, as it is indeed a celebration of the gift of another year.” This statement could not be more true. So today, even though I miss her every day, I’m celebrating my Mom.
For my Mom, every day was a reason to celebrate and she found countless reasons to do so. Growing up, I never really realized how much this statement was true. I still remember her elaborate school lunches in elementary school, usually with some involved theme. In high school, I remember coming home to a house decorated with red, white and blue balloons after I made Team USA. At Christmastime, there were many years of “Twelve Days of Christmases,” which consisted of twelve days of presents leading up to Christmas. Most years it included seven swans literally swimming in my bathtub. Even though my Mom was not Polish, my Dad was 100% so she researched the traditional customs. We preformed each and every one of them, from the hay under our tablecloth to represent the manger to the odd number of courses at dinner. For my Dad’s Birthdays, she would spend months searching for the “perfect gift.” I remember in second grade my Mom spent many sleepless nights preparing for my “American Girl” themed Birthday party. This included handmade wooden stamps and tops that she had my Grandpa make in his woodworking shop, Victorian games and several dozen finger sandwiches and tea. There was never any holiday, big or small, that was half done. Every occasion was a big occasion and always a labor of love.
On her Birthdays when I was young, my Mom and I would take a spin in the car around the neighborhood. We would drive up the street, around the court to the right of our house , around the court to the left of our house and then drive back home. Usually, during the second court she would let go of the wheel and yell, “no hands!” As a five year old, this was pretty terrifying.
To most people, driving is a privilege we overlook. But to my legally blind Mom, the car ride was her yearly rebellion and celebration of another year. This tradition is something that I think sums up who she was perfectly. She was able to recognize the beauty of the small things in life that some people may take for granted. And although she had a less than perfect life, she was able to see the good. She realized that life is too short to live life on the safe side and never truly live. She was able to celebrate each and every day, live life to the fullest and never take a moment for granted.
So today, I urge you to take a moment and truly LIVE. Throw caution to the wind, do something that you’re “not supposed to do” and enjoy being free in that moment. Find something to celebrate in each in every day. Because no matter how bad the situation, I can guarantee there is something good.