Every year our small family of siblings and cousins gather to celebrate a special day ~ my mother’s birthday. She is the last of her generation, the matriarch of the family, but this year it was extra special for it marked her 90th year, and we came together to celebrate all that my mother represents … living and loving well.
Even though our beginnings in Australia were fraught with difficulty, we are a fortunate family. You see we are imports ~ post WW2 refugees. My parents, and my mother’s brother and his wife arrived from war-torn Europe.
They came to freedom, each with a baby in their arms, and while their hearts ached for the home and family they left behind, they made a new life.
It was not easy, but it was happy, and our family grew. More children, more cousins, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren to further the story of our family.
Celebrating each other is an important part of how our family works, and we do it with a great deal of pleasure and joy. My mother‘s 90th birthday was no exception.
So … what can I say about my special little mother? Having spent most of her childhood alone in a hospital due to tuberculosis of the spine, planting solid roots and creating a family is what her whole life has been about.
And she has done it very well. Married to my very happy-go-lucky father, life throughout the years has often been a roller coaster, but she has been steadfast. With her feet on the ground, she has kept our family strong.
Mum learned from a young age to live by a set of rules. Refined, patient and particular by nature, she loves order and cares very much about doing the right thing.
While Dad brought excitement into our lives, Mum brought her kind heart, her compassion, and her loyalty. She has always been guided by her heart, and the older she gets, the more important it becomes.
She believes in God, in Angels, in the Great Good and in miracles. She loves a laugh, loves being right, can get very feisty, and without exception, will argue the point.
And, she’s a worrier.
But all you have to do is ask anyone who knows her, and they will tell you she touches them all with her kindness and wisdom.
And she gets back in abundance what she gives. Everyone loves her. Frail and struggling with her health now, she manages to get through her days with a determined smile.
She loves her garden, which my brother lovingly tends and makes more and more beautiful just for the pure joy of bringing her pleasure. My sister is also very close to Mum. Being the baby of the family, they have their special bond. As for me, Mum and I are very good friends. We speak every day and discuss everything from politics to religion, the treasured memories, and of course, life and death.
My mother loves nothing better than a good chat. Ask any of her grandchildren. She’s a great listener and she gives great advice.
She has been through so much in her life, worked so hard. She is brave and courageous. She is determined and strong. And she is honest and true.
Living by her high standards has not always been easy. But thankfully, the boundaries between black and white have blurred somewhat over the years, and these days, she is much kinder to herself.
And now she relies on all of us. It is our turn, and our privilege, to make her life as good as she has made ours.
So, as we have done in the years since she became the matriarch, we came together once again to celebrate her birthday. The weather was perfect, the food was wonderful, and the family was relaxed and happy.
The day hummed with love and goodwill as we all caught up with each other’s lives. Mum, as usual, gave her emotional rambling speech, loving us all with her words and her tears.
And with gratitude, we all accepted this as the blessing it was, from an amazing little lady who celebrates love every single day of her life.
Inara Hawley © 2013