So my mother's birthday is one day after my dad's, and it looks like blog posts are the new birthday cards... so here goes.
My mum is one of those crazy multi talented people who can do it ALL. I mean it! She cooks better than most people I know- every meal is a feast, she writes stories and poems- often on the spur of the moment, she sings, she draws, she bakes and decorates gorgeous wedding cakes, puts together artistic cards, is a word game whiz, and is pretty much up to any kind of creativity challenge you could propose. Yes, yes, kind of hard to live up to that kind of awesome. My siblings and I survived by dividing her talents among ourselves. So we each have a fifth of all that genius.
Why yes, she DID make that
She is a Story-Teller. Quite effortlessly she can weave a tale and capture an audience, without them ever realizing it. As kids, we would be excited for electricity cuts, because when it was dark, the only thing to do was listen to Mama's stories. There were some so spell-binding we would demand them again and again. I see her weave the same spell with my nieces, and sometimes when she is reading a storybook to children in the presence of adults, adult conversation trails off and suddenly everyone is listening. I have somewhat taken after her in this regard, but only realized after actually being in the middle of a made up story, that it's not the easiest thing in the world to keep a story going while preventing it from boring everyone to tears ("And then... um... he fell down. And then.. um... he kept walking... and walking.. and walking....")
She is a Memory-Maker. She created all these little childhood traditions for us- every night we'd wait for her to spread the bedsheets over us ('fishy-cover') and then sing a few lullabies (Train Whistle Blowin', Chi baba chi baba) which was the most comforting and soothing sound in the world. I'm pretty sure I wished that tradition had lasted well beyond the stage it did. Then of course we had Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy, we had birthday mornings where she always got everyone to make a big fuss over the birthday boy or girl- presents, cards, cake, being woken up by the whole family singing happy birthday. She planned and organized theme parties for each of our birthdays, with cakes and games and decorations all made by her- storybook parties, princess parties, Little Peter Rabbit parties, Facebook parties, etc. Inspired by her, we organized neighbourhood fetes and fancy dress competitions, made eucalyptus perfume, built dollhouses, climbed trees, took part in story-writing competitions, sang along to Sound of Music and My Fair Lady, and devoured storybooks.
How my cousins and siblings spent a lot of our childhood
She is Full of Fun- quite the life of the party, though not everyone who knows her knows that. I may or may not have gotten a little bit of my crazy from her too. Yes indeed, back in the day, I was the one getting embarrassed by the weirdness of my mother instead of the other way round. I distinctly remember coming home as a family from a wedding late in the night and my mother singing loudly and randomly. I was caught between embarrassment and wanting to be that free and happy and mad... so that night I crossed over to the other side. 'If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.' I also have many memories of family prayer times interrupted by fits of the giggles which yes indeed, Mama, was as prone to as the rest of us.
She is a Hard Worker. She is one of those Proverbs 31 women who work from dawn to dusk (well, apart from the essential Indian afternoon nap) and does not eat the bread of idleness- late nights helping us with projects, wrapping gifts for Christmas, cooking for parties, working on her catechetical lessons, making elaborate and thoughtful birthday cards, going the extra mile and not grudging the effort. With five kids and the urge to do things well, no wonder she looks tired in most of the old family pictures we have.
Of course I look tired, I just had a baby!
She is a willing student in the School of the Holy Spirit. She has this special intimate familiar relationship with Jesus that at first I would just observe. How did she hear Him speak so clearly in her prayer time? How did she get so many prayers answered? How could she ask so confidently for the most insignificant things? Little by little I saw that the intimacy of love she knew could be mine too if I desired it. I've seen the possibility and the truth of a real, authentic, challenging, sanctifying relationship with a real, gentle, loving God- because she has that kind of relationship.
She has allowed herself to become a fruitful tree under which many take shelter. In Mulieris Dignitatem, Pope John Paul II says "The moral and spiritual strength of a woman is joined to her awareness that God entrusts the human being to her in a special way.... Thus the "perfect woman" (cf. Prov 31:10) becomes an irreplaceable support and source of spiritual strength for other people, who perceive the great energies of her spirit. These "perfect women" are owed much by their families, and sometimes by whole nations."
Many have found support and strength from my mother. Many have told me they wished they had a mother like mine. I have often directed people to her when I find people who just need someone to talk to, to mother them, to lead them to Christ. She has often served me as a spiritual director. When I have faced spiritual attack or darkness, confusion or doubt, times of struggle and misunderstanding, I knew I could always turn to her for prayer, for words of wisdom and for a Mary-like reminder to 'Do whatever He tells you.'
I love you, Mama. Happy birthday!