I've been sick for the last several days, primarily with a sore throat, so I'm not able to celebrate my mother's birthday with her in person. After she had pneumonia last summer, there's no way anyone wants her to get sick again.
Anyway, since I can't be with her today, I thought I'd pay homage here and tell you a little bit about the first woman in my life. She's pretty special, even though she doesn't personally seem to think so.
This is the woman who's experienced several heartaches in life, but has proven to be a survivor through all of the challenges that have been thrown her way. I admire her strength in the face of struggles that would have crushed someone else.
She raised me on her own - well, with her parents' support - after my father left when I was a baby. She did a fine job, too, and that's not just my opinion. Ask those who know me well, and they'll tell you the same thing. It wasn't easy financially. My father paid alimony and child support only under duress, when the courts ordered his wages garansheed. But by living a frugal lifestyle, she succeeded, and I never felt deprived or neglected. We went out for meals on occasion, I usually got a treat when we went to the store, and some of my favourite outfits were those she made by hand.
While Mom would have liked to remarry, she always put me first and wouldn't consider anyone who wasn't interested in children or a ready-made family. She dated occasionally, but after a failed first marriage, refused to settle. She taught me how important it was to be careful whom to choose in a life partner, to make sure that his values and beliefs lined up with my own.
When I was well on my way to an independent life, she finally went back to school to get her own post-secondary education. It took about ten years on a part-time basis, but she graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Administration from Ryerson Polytechnical Institute, now Ryerson University. Then she applied and was accepted to the University of Toronto, took a year's leave of absence from work, and obtained her Bachelor of Education degree. For a short time she taught adult students through the school board's adult education department, then it was time to retire. She taught me the value of perseverance.
I couldn't be there today, but I sent flowers - a dozen roses with ulsters and ferns - and made a phone call. "Happy Birthday, Mom. I'm really glad you were born... And I'm glad you're still here."
Easter weekend we'll take her out for a belated birthday dinner, and I look forward to saying that again.
And, Mom, I hope you have many more birthdays to celebrate. May God bless you with good health and daily pleasures.