A Conversation With My Mom on What Would Have Been Her 83rd Birthday


Happy Birthday Mom! It goes without saying, I miss you. A lot some days. Some days more than others. Some days because of sad things, some days because of happy things.  Every time I see a cardinal, I think of you. Every time we are baking, I think of you. I pick up a recipe card that you wrote, and the handwriting makes me smile, but makes me sad. I want to pull into the driveway of your house and walk in to see you sitting at the table, book in hand, coffee cup in front of you, and sit with you to talk and have coffee too.  I still have the mugs I drank out of at your house and I still sit down each day to have coffee with you.

I wonder sometimes why we weren’t closer. I wonder why we didn’t have those mother and daughter talks about everything and nothing. It is not that I didn’t want to, I did.  Did you?  I wonder if you missed that too. We didn’t do mother and daughter things. You didn’t like to shop. I don’t remember us doing much of anything.  We did have a big yours, mine and ours family, but I am sure we could have found the time.

Was being the oldest in your family the reason you were like you were?  Is there something to birth order?  Were you always the caretaker?  Did you resent it?


I look at this picture of you at 17. I wonder, what were your dreams for your life? Did you have any? Did you have regrets? Mostly, were you happy?  I don’t even know. I hope you were. I know it wasn’t easy. From the era you were born in, to losing dad so soon after you were married.


I try to imagine how it was to be married just 10 years, to have 4 young children, and to be a widow.  That had to change so much. Did you ever wonder what life would be like if he hadn’t died so young?  Did you think of him often?

Did you think I did a good job ever? I wonder why you didn’t tell me. I wanted to hear that you loved me. And I finally did.  When I was diagnosed with cancer.  You even hugged me.  I am almost ashamed to say that almost made me uncomfortable because I had not experienced it before. I wonder how it felt when I called you that night to tell you. I remember your quiet sad voice that just said, “Oh Joy…”  I wonder what you felt that you didn’t say to me. What went through your mind that night when you were alone?

I am sorry you have missed so much with my kids.  I am glad you got to ‘meet’ them all.


I am glad to have a picture like this for my daughter…I wish there were more.  I am sorry you have missed birthdays, graduations, and I am sorry you did not get to know the amazing terrific people they have become.  That precious little girl you are holding in that picture is now a senior in college…and I think she would just amaze you.  I think you would be proud. Of them all.

I wish we would have had these conversations when you were alive.  I am not sure why we didn’t, why people don’t talk more, why they don’t say what they want to while they can.

I miss your presence in my life always. Each and every moment.

Happy Birthday mom!



  1. Very moving blog, Joy. My mom is a couple of years older than your mom would have been and we have always had that same type of relationship. In your case, it made you a better mother; in my case, I tend to follow in her footsteps too often. I can see you in both your mom and dad in their wedding picture.

  2. That mother daughter relationship is always complicated at best. I have two daughters – one a warm, close relationship with – one strained and I feel like try, try, try. Who knows what your mother bore? Who knows, really, besides you, what you as her daughter bore in your wish to be closer? It sounds like you’ve come to an understanding – or at least peace with her. Very poignant.

  3. Joy, I loved your blog. I was sitting on the porch swing yesterday and saw a cardinal and thought of your mom also. I do not know you well but from what I do know, you are an awesome mom. It is amazing what we do as parents because we didn’t experience it as children. : )

  4. What a wonderful and thought provoking post, Joy. I think relationships can be so complicated at times and family dynamics don’t always depict idyllic scenes no matter how much we wish it to be that way. I have been blessed with my relationships with family and I do not take it for granted as I know that not everyone has those same experiences. Your experiences have molded you into the woman that you are today and that journey will be perhaps different than your mom’s journey . You did such a wonderful job in this post. Thanks for sharing a bit of yourself and a bit of your mom with us.

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