A Century

Today is my mother’s 100th birthday. When that occurred to me this morning I was stunned that I’d forgotten.

It’s hard to write something in “honor” of my mom, but she was my mom, for better or worse, good or ill, and as I’m a fairly decent person she must’ve done OK.

So here are the good things I got from my mom.

Love of nature. Although she didn’t go outside and “get her head on straight” (her words) a often as she should have, the moments we shared at Barr Lake east of Denver or hunting rocks in some random Montana farmer’s field were among the best in our relationship.

The ability to look around. This was important to her. She seems to have valued the skill of observation, the ability to pay attention. If I DIDN’T look around I got slapped. Maybe not the favorite childrearing stragedy but it worked. I see things all the time that others miss.

A high regard for a place like Monte Vista. My mom came from farming roots and small towns in Montana. As a result, I got to see those things and to learn how much they matter. This includes rodeo, ranching, crops all of the things surrounding me here that I love and have made me feel at home even though in a way — and forever — I am a traveler here.

An appreciation for history. Whatever history was to be seen and experienced on a family road trip, we saw and experienced it. This would be tiny sod-house museums left from pioneer times in Northern Nebraska to the old, decrepit depot in Littleton, Colorado — and more. She loved history and somehow, from this, I developed the desire to find a context for the present moments of my life. This includes curiosity about family.

She taught me to love reading and to appreciate travel.

Sense of humor? Maybe, though my mom said I didn’t have one. No one I know would agree with her, but while hers tended to be caustic, mine is only sardonic. I think my sense of humor is also darker than my moms, probably a gift from my dad.

She had her faults — she was an alcoholic, moody, mean, violent and she didn’t really like me, but through all that, I wouldn’t be a lot of the good things that make me me without her influence even her teaching.

20 thoughts on “A Century

  1. I was in the same boat. My mother didn’t have any affection for any of us. You look so beautiful and happy in that picture with you mom. Your wedding dress is truly lovely. Your right, although you may not have had a closeness (and I understand that) you learned some valuable lifetime “lessons” for lack of a better word that augered well for you. Still you became your own person and lived and that’s spectacular, Martha.

  2. This is such an honorable post about your mother. Honoring her qualities that helped you become who you are. While also acknowledging what was not so honorable. I hope someday to be at a place to do the same. I am inspired by your story and its balance. The photos tell a story too.

    • I think the photos are pretty clear on who she was. It’s been a long road — 24 years — for me to get to the moment of writing his post.

      • Photos can do that for sure. And it’s good to hear that time passing can help transition to a better place. Even if it takes 24 years. I am working on the patience for that part.

  3. Today would be my Dad’s 99th birthday–He died nine years ago. It must be something about March 7th–he had a sarcastic but subtle sense of humor. Lucky me–he was a wonderful Dad and I miss him.

  4. My adoptive mother would be a hundred last year. She died at 57. My biological mother would be 86 this year but she died at 83. My mother-in-law died at 100 in January of last year. And then there was adoptoDad who was born in 1913. None of them ever exactly flourished and all were unhappy thru most of their lives.

    It makes me want to enjoy my last couple of decades as much as I can. You should too. 🙂

  5. A lovely tribute to a complicated relationship. Focus on the good. I’m working on achieving such balance when I think of my own mother (who passed recently).

  6. yup, flawed and human. I think that is one of the most challenging things about individuals such as your mother. They aren’t “evil”, but hugely flawed. They have their virtues, and at the same time, can do incredible damage. I am glad for you that you made it through and have found what has served you well.

    On a different note, I was out at Barr Lake on Friday. Its such a gem of a state park. Eagles, ducks, geese, robins, magpies, meadowlarks, redwing blackbirds and so on. So close to the highway and still a magical place!

Comments are closed.