It’s my mother’s birthday today. She would have been 81 years young today.
I say 81 years young because that’s what she always has been. She always held on to her youthful spirit despite what anybody said or thought. Even when in her later years age-related ailments started to creep up on her she would still keep her optimistic aura around her.
With all the hardship she’s been through one would think that she would have turned into a bitter old woman. She grew up during the height of fascist Germany and the horrors of World War II. She had to work hard to help the family make ends meet. She was threatened by Nazi officers for not saluting them the proper way after learning that her dear brother had been killed in the Russian battlefields.
She ran for cover or jumped from a moving burning train during the bombing raids by the Allied Forces. And she knew what hunger felt like.
Right after the war had ended she married my dad, whom was still serving in the U.S. Air Force at the time. They moved to Georgia and there my mother had to overcome obstacles of a different nature. Not only was there a language barrier and a different lifestyle to get accustomed to but also the prejudice against Germans. The wounds of the war were still fresh and they would let her know that.
Interestingly enough, my mother wasn’t even born in Germany. Fate would have it that she was born in Brazil and through family ties ended up in Munich, Germany when she was still a toddler.
However, life eventually got better for her and she was able to enjoy it to the fullest. Even in the most modest ways. She would find pleasures in the smallest, most insignificant things. Something as simple like a walk in the park or a home baked cookie would bring her just as much joy as listening to an aria at the opera. It didn’t take much to put a smile on her face.
She always had that childlike innocence about her. There was no need for false pretense or to justify who she was or what she liked. She’s been criticized for many things because she wouldn’t allow to be molded into whatever her own family or society at the time dictated her to be. She simply didn’t care what others thought of her or to “act her age.” A trait I got from her.
My mother and I were very close and best friends. And just like I she loved anything Disney. We would visit Disneyland whenever there was a chance. Not one kid out there had as much fun as my mother did.
Her last ever trip was to Walt Disney World in Florida. She was already suffering from a recurrent cancer and had to be in a wheelchair. But she enjoyed every damn minute of it. The Disney folks were amazing too and helped tremendously making this one memorable trip. The very day we flew back home to Las Vegas she suffered a stroke from which she never recovered. And the cancer eventually took its toll.
I just regret that she never had a chance to met my George. She would have loved and adored him. They too would have become the best of friends.
My mother was a happy woman and that’s how I want to remember her. She would have wanted me to. When she was always smiling and embracing life with such curiosity and vigor. These are qualities which are so lacking in today’s society. Especially in young people. They have no clue what they’re missing.
I know who I’m missing. A lot. But she’s always present. In my mind, my heart, whenever and wherever. She always will. Corniness and schmaltz be damned. I pity anyone who’s never been touched by such a joyful and generous person.
Alles Gute zum Geburtstag, Mutti.