And my soul cries, thank you, thank you, Father, for another beautiful year. I don’t deserve it. Sometimes I wonder when my time to be called home will come. Is it today? Tomorrow? Will I live to be an old lady sitting on a front porch, rocking in a chair? Does that question ever cross your mind? It’s bittersweet, isn’t it? We’ll miss so many but rejoin so many. Our heavenly birthday.
Going through a rather dry season in my life, I don’t feel like I have much to offer. Not much to offer anyone.
Though so thankful for my healing thus far — thank you, Father — my mother and I agreed that I’ve always been on the frail side. We look each other straight in the eye, nodding our heads. Strong in mind and determination, but weak in physical strength. I find it ridiculous to say that my surgery in March has crippled my strength to this day, and I’m scrambling to gain it back. Lord, let me gain it back.
And the person who called me every birthday is with Jesus. I’ll always love you, Ma-Maw.
My girls spend the day before my birthday working hard. For me. Baking, blowing up balloons. They love me. They know me.
I am led by a precious hand, eyes shut tight, barely peeking not to stub a toe, into a room with streamers to view this —
“Open your eyes, Momma …”
My eyes go immediately to the work they’ve created, spent hours creating, and my heart smiles. Why, it’s a book. It’s a cake book. For me. They do know their momma. God, thank you for my girls—not of my body but of all my heart. Oh, God, my heart aches with love for them. I pray I show it like I should.
I open cards from my dad and uncle with joyful expectation over reading the words. You see, they don’t just pick any card. They spend time searching for that one perfect card that says that one perfect line. They are cancer survivors who rarely take life for granted. Thank you, God, for their love.
We agree to call my beautiful momma to see if she’ll go to the zoo with us — another cancer survivor who rarely takes life for granted.
When it’s tempting to keep celebrations just the four of us, I remember how short time is. Life is to be celebrated with those we love. And in spite of her foot’s injured tendon, she comes along with us anyway, bearing gifts as always … she gives her time, because she feels the same. Is our time today? Is it tomorrow?
Though I walk that zoo lagging behind all, I’m grateful to have my momma at my side. With her a little older and limping on a testy tendon, we keep in perfect step. Together. Her weakness and mine.
The zoo’s misters refresh our weary selves from the heat. I’m way past caring about my appearance, and I bask in it. Wet my hair. Throw out my arms to greet it. My hubby reminds me it’s not wet t-shirt day. I laugh. Yeah, me, right.
The mist fans remind me of my mother’s daddy — the box fan he had in the wall by his bed. It really was built into the wall. You could see clear outside when it wasn’t turned on. Momma said when she was a little girl, after taking a shower, she’d go lie down on his bed … soak in that huge fan. Relief. Relief from Texas style heat. I loved my momma’s daddy, who was not a cancer survivor. I miss him.
I mention her mother.
“She died in her mid-fifties,” Momma says.
“Too young,” I say.
|Rosie, second from left, holding her bitty baby. My momma’s grandmother Rose first on left.
Her heart. Rough life she had … bad health, one of her babies died. I was little when she died, only eight, but I remember her. Sweet memories. God, thank you for memories. Her passing is dated in my children’s Bible. I dated it.
Momma can’t mention her without tears welling up. She catches her broken breath. She misses her terribly. God, thank you for Momma.
And with the Texas day’s heat up to 98 degrees, one little girl places ice cubes in her hat to keep herself cool. At only fourteen, she’s another cancer survivor who rarely takes life for granted. She laughs. Her laughter is contagious.
We wet our faces in the bathroom with cool water and allow ourselves to drip dry. We push aside the temptation to complain. Because, well, it’s my birthday, and well, that’s a slippery slope. That’s a definite floor that’s slippery when wet.
And we just soak in the day, the time, the sun, the shade, the two baby elephants, each other … all we can. Soak in the celebration, in the thoughtfulness of others, and watch to see … how God will allow the giving back.
Because life really does get hectic and sometimes we need a shoulder. And sometimes we need to give it.
Celebrating is in the giving. For that’s when we really receive.