Mama’s first birthday in heaven is coming up in a couple days. I know it will be amazing for her! Back here on earth, I’m struggling and feeling emotional. These holidays seem to pull me from what I’ll call “adjusted mourning” back into deep mourning. I’m not crying, but I feel like it almost constantly.
I decided to spend some time on Ancestry.Com, to honor Mama and our heritage. So I’ve spent some hours delving into the past, learning things about great-great-great grandparents…imagining what life must have been like then. It intrigues me to think of this chain of people that were crucial to Mama being born. And to me being here now.
The DNA of people I’ve never met, are woven into who we are. I wonder how many of them Mama is meeting for the first time in heaven. I wonder how many of them knew Jesus and trusted in Him.
This will be my first time ever not celebrating Mama’s birthday with her. The last few years our celebrations have been “interesting”. I still smile when I think of the one in 2014…
I baked a cake for Mom and brought it to her house. She sat with me and I asked, “How’s my Mama?”
Mom answered, “I don’t know. I didn’t ask her. Ask her… Esther? Where’s Esther?”
She started shouting, “ESTHER!” (As far as I know Mom has never known an Esther.) Mom shouted, “CRAZY PEOPLE!” Then she started singing random words.
“Mom,” I said, “It’s your birthday.”
“Yes… You’re 81.”
“Eighty-one?” She said some words I didn’t understand and ended with, “It’s possible.”
I started singing, “Happy Birthday to you…”
Mom shouted, “ME! NOT YOU!”
I started singing again, “Happy birthday to you…”
And Mom sang the next line in rhythm, “…said somebody but you don’t know who….” And we both started laughing.
I started singing again, “Happy Birthday…”
And Mom jumped in with, “…to me, Happy Birthday to Nina Fay….” And then she kept singing but with different words and melody, “What a wonderful day…oh what a wonderful day…”
I wrote her name down for her and she said that it looked right. Then she suddenly burst out singing, “What a friend we have in Jesus…” and sang the whole chorus word for word!
We gathered around the kitchen table to have her blow her candles out. Dad says birthday candles have always been important to her, but she didn’t want to be at the table and she didn’t know how to blow out the candles. He kept trying to talk her into it.
Finally I said, “Mom, look at me, I’m going to blow out one candle and you blow out the other.” As she saw me blowing, I think it reminded her how to do it and she also blew one out. Hurrah!
She ate her cake, but was agitated and restless and wanted to leave the table. At one point she shouted, “Go home!”
“Do you want me to go home?” I asked.
Mom cleverly answers, “That’s a good way to get there.”
Oh, Mama! I never knew what I’d get from her in those years. But she made me laugh and cry and love her more. And I just miss her now.
I don’t know what I’ll do this year without her on her birthday. I’m thinking I may bake her a cake and bring it over to Daddy. I’m guessing I’ll cry, since I am right now just thinking about it.
But I can also rejoice. Because I know Mama will be having her best birthday ever, with her friend Jesus. And I can imaging many of these ancestors I’m researching now are gathering around her and finding out how warm and fun and sweet Mama is. And they are laughing with her and loving her more and more.
And for her it will be a wonderful day. Oh, what a wonderful day!
“And Jesus replied, ‘I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.'”
Luke 23:43 (NLT)