Today is August 13. It’s my mother’s birthday. She would have been 82 today. I was only in my teens and she was in her thirties when she was diagnosed with a melanoma. You know, she loved the sunshine. As soon as the first warm spring days came along after the long and dark Nordic winter , she would lay in the sun on our roof terrace on her days off. And every year, without fail, she would get sun-burned. There was no SPF 45, nobody talked about the dangers of the sun. And there was no chemo therapy to talk about. So within a year from the diagnosis she was gone. My dad, my sister and I were devastated.
I remember singing a duet in the church at her funeral. It was surreal, like I was performing at the funeral of someone we hardly knew. When I thought of her death, I just felt anger. Why would anyone need to leave so young? It was not fair. I am sure these same feelings are experienced by most people who lose loved ones at/of young age.
Although my mother’s early departure forced both me and my younger sister to grow up fast and take responsibility for our lives, it took a long time before it all really sank in for me. Even when I came home from college for a weekend, I remember expecting to find her there. But gradually, over the years, I came to accept that her life, for some reason unknown to me, was to be a short one.
Now I think of her with love and gratitude. She had her shortcomings, like all of us, but she was a beautiful human being, an early career woman and a wonderful, loving mother. She brought us up with strong values, unwavering faith, warmth and caring. I’m sure she’s been watching us all along from where her young spirit found its home. I know that these early experiences have contributed to how my life path has turned out. I can only hope she likes what she’s seeing.
These roses are for you dear mother, from all of us, including your sweet great-granddaughter. Happy Birthday!