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.