Reflections at 40…

The first forty years of life give us the text, the next thirty supply the commentary on it. ~ Schopenhauer

40 years ago, my mother brought me into this world.

For the next 37 years, my birthdays were etched with her in the picture.  Since I’m a summer birthday I spent most of my celebrations with Mom.  Even after college, when I immediately moved to NYC, my first phone call every August 8th was always from Mom.  Birthdays just weren’t complete without Mom’s involvement.

How ironic that my mom’s last trip out to the beach was to celebrate my 37th birthday (the last one celebrated together before her death).

Summer 2008 -Mom and Alex at the beach for my 37th birthday.

Summer 2008 - Mom and Maddy at the beach for my 37th birthday.

So now I’m finally 40 (gulp, sigh, cry).

Mom would be incredulous that her baby has reached this milestone (with a sprinkling of gray hairs too).  How could her youngest child, who loved to fib, cut her own bangs (and fib again), who detested taking showers, be the wife to a loving husband and a parent of two adoring children (who don’t fib and cut their own bangs)?  I’m certain she never imagined not being around on this special day.  And, I never imagined being a motherless daughter at 37 either.

I’ve spent the last week reflecting upon my life: past, present, future.  Without Mom’s calls, her intent listening, her constructive words, her comforting blue eyes, at times I’ve felt like I’ve been lost at sea without a life vest. She made me bouyant.

Her absence has created a gaping hole within which I’m merely treading water.

If she could see me now, what would she say?  No matter what, her words had always been my most coveted endorsement.  They helped me stay the course, reconfirmed and challenged my personal choices and aided my navigation through marriage and parenting and just LIFE.

And, life is for the living.  Mom echoed this sentiment during her own journeys through friendships, parenting, marriage, even her illness. I know she’d want me to do the same.  She’d want me to celebrate all that I’ve accomplished and look forward to all that lies ahead.

I’ve been imagining my 40th birthday call for some time. Hearing Mom’s  soothing voice.  Rejoicing as she tells me how proud she is of me, her grandchildren. Smiling as she wishes me a bright future full of happiness and love.

Mom certainly raised the “life” bar very high for me, but, she also took the time and love to ground me with the strongest values. And so, in addition to creating my long list of what I’ve accomplished and what I want to conquer in the years ahead, I also pledge to spend my next 40 years cultivating Moms’ principals.

If I can be half the wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend she was, I’ll consider myself almost accomplished..

Well, you don’t need to tell us if you’ve passed 40 but,  have you had any big birthdays where you’ve made any big plans or wish lists?


  1. […] While my 40th birthday on Monday was so sad and terribly lonely without Mom, I did have the next best thing happen.  My sister and her entire family flew in from Miami to celebrate with me.  When together, we always seem to laugh and cherish our lives (which couldn’t be more opposite from one another). Undoubtedly, we end up rehashing every last memory we share of Mom (healthy or sick).  How fitting it was that tonight, for dinner, as I tried to strut my culinary stuff for my big sis (remember folks, she’s the one who was blessed with Mom’s gourmet touch), we needed to find an accompaniment to my pasta with homemade pesto and sweet peas.  We both looked at each other and in unison, sang out, “Sweet Summer Corn.” […]

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