Monday, December 19, 2011

In the season of my birth

This is one of my all time favorite pictures, taken by Tony Wood on my 5oth birthday. Here is a piece I wrote for the day.
In the season of my birth, and as I turn fifty, I’m thinking about parents and children,mothers and daughters, my mother, my daughter and me, and how we teach by who we are. All parents wish for their children to be happy. It’s their greatest wish. Children learn how to be happy by watching their parents enjoy themselves.
I learned this from my mother, especially in winter, because she never tried to turn
winter into spring for me. She made the most of winter...
In the morning of a freshly fallen snow, we’d take a hike always with the same
destination in mind-’Dunkin Donuts’, she loved their coffee. In the afternoon, after all the forts and snowmen were built and destroyed, she’d pack us into her station wagon and take us to Burholme Park for sledding. We’d all pile on top of her and plow down that hill, making the most of a snowy day, before the sun went down. Winter road conditions never stopped her from driving downtown to the theater at night, then Chinatown for a late dinner. Winter cold never stopped her from celebrating New Year’s Eve on the patio, clattering pots and pans, popping noise makers and yelling “Happy New Year!” to the cars racing through her corner stop sign. (The one she fought City Hall for). New Year’s Day found us shivering on Broad Street while Mummers paraded to the music she loved. In winter, we ran to the Spectrum for the ‘Ice Capades’, her dream, then created our own at ‘Boulevard Ice Rink’. We did all of these things with visions of hot chocolate and ‘TastyKake Chocolate Cupcakes’, her favorites, awaiting our return to the blue and yellow chrome kitchen table.
I was nearly born between the heavy chrome legs of that table on a snowy Sunday
in December, just before brunch. My pregnant mother’s water broke in the kitchen and
three year old brother Lanse ran upstairs for a towel, and for Dad to take her to the hospital. I think she gave birth to me prematurely on purpose in mid-December rather than January, so I shouldn’t miss a party, and the holiday vacation.
Throughout her life, my mother’s older sisters “did for her”, allowing her to be their
princess. She never crocheted or sewed, she barely cooked or cleaned. They did it for
her. She strutted around in the fuzzy winter coats and hand knitted scarves and hats they passed down, and wore them to the opera. My mother had big feet in wide boots. She
trampled the snow for me, forging a path for happiness to come sledding through, leaving clear instructions on my heart.