HAPPY POSTHUMOUS BIRTHDAY, MAYBELLE
Whenever I write the occasional column that pertains to the few sadnesses I’ve had over these past two years, I’m aware that I’m being a tad self-indulgent. But please bear with me for just a little while longer, and then I’ll put it all behind me. At least on this E-zine, never in my heart.
I’m so grateful that I threw her a birthday soiree in her house last year. And it was a really good one! She loved it! It was the talk of her town (Brooklyn, of course,) for a great while to come.
What I miss most about today, beside her, of course, is sending her cards. I’m going to tell you what I always did for her, not to blow my own horn as an excellent daughter, but in the hopes that even one of you will adopt this policy for your own loved ones. (I’ve yet to meet even one other person who does this, so don’t berate yourself for not dreaming it up on your own.) My mother loved this routine; I know I would, too, if anyone was kind enough to do it for me. [Note: no, that’s not a hint to my pals; I much prefer meals and massages to cards and even gifts!]
I’d spend at least two hours buying her all kinds of birthday cards. (By the way, I did this for Mother’s Day, too.) Some were funny, some serious, some played music. There were cards from just me, from Mr. X and me, and even from Clarence. And an occasional one from a group of us, including my friends and audience members.
Then, I’d spend at least another hour planning the order of them, to mix them up, and write things either clever or heartfelt on each one; I’d compose the sentiments so that they’d make the most sense when read in order. Then I’d label that order with numbers on the envelopes, address the whole lot of them, stamp, and send.
My mother loved them! And she always shared the array with any pals who stopped by; she loved displaying them! And kept them all over the years. This effort meant more to her than receiving a gift from anyone, especially since most of the presents she got were nothing she needed or wanted. I rarely sent her gifts because I always brought them with me in person; that way, I to get to witness her joy when seeing them for the first time.
But with this “card buffet,” my little mo got to talk about them with her postman, who was always amazed that she got so many from just one person. She called me every day to tell me which number envelopes had arrived. She ostensibly shouldn’t have opened them until they were all there, but she was so excited to see each one that she just couldn’t wait to open them in order. But, after she received, and opened, them all, she had her young pals read them to her that way, to show them just what I had done for her.
It was exhausting, for both of us, but oh so worth it.
So, Happy Birthday, Mommy! I’m sending you spiritual cards in my mind.