Oh April! The month of smiling daffodils and terrific tulips, of fuchsia redbuds and lavender lilacs. The month my neighborhood walks return so I see snowy white dogwood blossoms and showy pink magnolia blooms. Above all in April, I celebrate the wonderful women born in this first full month of spring.
The list is too long to name them all. Five coworkers I adore. Multiple amazing friends like Mary, Mo, and Melodee, the latter my 40 year plus bestie. Most specially, I celebrate Mom.
Though my mother’s life seemed destined to deliver her hardship and heartbreak, it’s an ongoing inspiration to me. Poverty fell on her family after the Great Depression. By 14 she left home with her 8th grade education to earn her keep scrubbing floors and doing laundry. Married life meant living with an alcoholic spouse, bearing eight children–one who died of AIDS–and being widowed at 59.
Despite it all, Mom never gave up on life. If felt abandoned by God, she nonetheless found enough faith to walk a mile to mass every Sunday and to take a next step forward in life. She found abundance on a tiny sum of social security and even found a few years of love anew.
Whether in a letter sent when I was away at law school or a chat during one of my too short visits in her final years, Mom’s news always seemed small to me. A recitation of her lunch menu that day. A comment on the squirrels in her backyard. How she was saving up to repair her back porch. It felt removed from my life of activism, career, and continuous striving.
This April marks what would have been Mom’s 99th birthday. My doctor tells me I’ll be spared the heart disease that took her on a bitter December day years before her sisters, both of whom lived well in their 90s. While my aspiration is to pass the centenarian mark, the many early and unexpected deaths I’ve witnessed remind me there is no guarantee I’ll make it to see even another year.
How can I begin to practice a bit of the resilience grace and every day appreciation that my mother showed? Less proving by doing and more living by being? Perhaps by following in those footsteps. Savor the asparagus of the season. Appreciate each bud of springtime. How did I ever think the sound of a sparrow in spring was to be dismissed?
Whether I make past the hundred mark or fail to make it to my next April, in Mom’s memory I vow to cherish each wafting fragrance of a linden tree and each April-born being along the the path.
Happy April Birthday, my beloveds.
Do you have special months of the year?
Do either birthdays or small joys inspire you?
How do the memories of loved ones who have died influence your life?