This past weekend brought a major milestone in my life. I am now older than my mother was at the time of her death. It’s a hard concept to imagine. Most of the people reading this still have a living mother. If you’re my age, your mom is between 65 and 75. My mother was not quite one month into her 45th year when she passed away. I was 19. Back then, 45 seemed a lifetime away and in some ways it was. It’s funny how time changes perspective.
I laugh and say I can’t remember 19 but I can. At 19, I thought I was grown. After all, I was a legal adult. I was paying my way in the world and I had buried my mother. The only boxes I needed to mark off next was secure a real grown up career, get married and have kids. But, since I planned to never do the last two, I only had to get out of school and land that career. It’s funny what can change in 26 years.
My career is over and done with; I now have a j.o.b. My children are 12 and 14 and I’ve been married since 1997. I am doing absolutely nothing that I expected to be doing should I be so lucky to reach 45. In fact, at 19, I thought if I ever made it to 45 every minute after that would be gravy – a gift from the universe. That was kind of a stupid way of looking at it. Isn’t every minute already a gift from the universe? Why did I think I needed to wait until I hit 45?
This past weekend really messed with my head. But, it did remind me of one of the many lessons I learned from my mother’s young death. Life passes so quickly. Our time here is so fleeting. Yet, I find that I still forget that lesson on the regular and I need reminders. This past weekend was a reminder. Those 26 years have passed in the blink of an eye. They are nothing more than a blur punctuated with major life events. I still have so much I want to do, so much I want to see and experience. At the top of my list of things I still need to do is to watch my children grow up and hopefully be productive, well-adjusted and relatively happy members of society. The next item is for me to grow up to be a crazy old lady like the Golden Girls. I want my adult children to worry about what fresh brand of crazy I’m getting myself into. And, more than anything, I hope neither of my kids has to navigate life at 19 or younger without me being around to help as needed. A person can believe they are grown and don’t need their parents at 19 but there have been countless times when, despite her being the meanest woman I’ve ever know, I could have used my mother’s advice.
Photo Credit: Not sure who took it but this is my mother holding an infant me. She was 25 or 26 depending on what month the photo was taken. This is my favorite photo of us because she actually looks like she likes me and you can see my Granddaddy’s arm on the right side of the photo. I wonder if someone had told her she would leave me 19 years later if she would have behaved differently.