I planned to skip today.
I mean, celebrating my birthday with the one who gave me birth being gone now two days shy of only two months just seemed–well, too hard.
I even stripped my birthdate off my Facebook profile so it could pass quietly.
I tried to share my feelings with one family member–perhaps not very well–who shared with another–perhaps not very well–who texted me that I was being selfish.
Grief is selfish?
That person went on to explain–perhaps not very well, but I got the drift–that celebrating my birthday was the same as celebrating my mother.
I added my birthdate back to my profile.
And my wall has been flooded all day with birthday wishes.
These friends reflect Jesus, and I am overwhelmed.
She’d asked us each to bring a poem, our own, to read aloud.
To offer it up for discussion and reflection.
I took this one, written last summer.
And today I’m reposting it–edited and retitled.
I am from black-and-white two channels,
antenna perched on a post turned
to fuzzy and not-so-fuzzy
by hand in all weather with
From always Ford, Appian Way pizza, Campbell’s soup, Evening in Paris,
and Avon lipstick samples in the mail.
From Soupy Sales, Ed Sullivan, Sky King,
Kenny Roberts the Jumping Cowboy,
and Tigers baseball.
I am from the little house,
three rooms for five,
kitchen cupboards chartreuse
and gray formica table,
hemmed by woods
and buttoned with a propane tank.
Four log cabins heated with kerosene
for company and customers,
hunters and National Guard,
and a single-seater outhouse
inhabited by snakes.
I am from the birch tree and the Juneberry,
the blueberry bog, wild strawberries, spore-spotted fern forts,
morels, and green pads with yellow bobbers
I am from one-at-a-time tinsel on the tree,
playing cards, Paul Bunyan tales, rowboats and bluegills
and Thunder Bay pike.
I am from James the shanty boy and Edwin the dulcimer player,
from William the gardener and fresh-picked rhubarb dipped in sugar.
I am from Grandma Dummer and books of the month,
crochet hooks and limburger cheese,
with old-fashioned candies, hard and cream-filled.
From paper and pencils and pages,
manual typewriters and carbon.
I am from clean-your-plate-or-no-dessert
I am from the Golden Rule and the Ten Commandments,
letters to Aunt Emma (Sister Mary Lucinda),
a box of scripture verses,
and Sunday funnies.
I am from unleavened pancakes, ambrosia, broiled chicken,
and tiny morsels of liver swimming in catsup
soft-boiled eggs and sour cream on everything.
I am from the scent of pipe tobacco and sawdust, coffee and cigarettes,
railroad ties and forest fragrances,
and strains of Oh, What a Beautiful Morning.
I am from the Horizontal Queen of Horseshoe Lake
with the fishhook in her lip,
a bartender with his name on a bullet,
and a wrestling-loving grandmother.
I am from albums black and white and wedding check stubs,
crocheted dresses and a gold-gilded pitcher,
an Alpine costume that no longer fits and a plastic-flowered crown.
I am from wood and earth and water,
feathers and fur and scales
and deep white snow.
When I see where I’m from,
I see where I go.
Happy Birthday to me. Thanks, Mom!