201....That's the number of complete months since I last spoke to or saw my Mother.  201 full months of missing her and needing her.  I was 26 years old when my Mom suddenly passed away.  It was the first time I'd lost someone incredibly close to me and I was shattered.  She was a young 59 and she was supposed to be here, even now, nearly 17 years later.  I fully expected her to help me plan my children's birthday parties, graduation parties, to come over and get in pictures when they went to Prom.  I fully expected her to be at their births and to be there when my babies became parents.  Her absence has toughened me and made independent.  But I still cry.  

This time of year is bittersweet for me.  My birthday is soon and with that, comes the memories of my Mom.  Her more than anyone in my life, made a fuss over birthdays.  I never felt so special than on my birthday because she made me feel that way.  Not since, have I felt that special.  It's hard to top how cared for a nurturing parent came make his or her children feel, even when the children are adults.  The last birthday I shared with her, even though I was an adult on my own, she still had me over for dinner, made a favorite meal and baked my favorite cake like no one else had...angel food cake with panuche frosting (look it up then make it.  You're welcome).  

Losing a parent is a powerful happening.  My Dad left to be with my Mom eight years later, nearly 9 years ago.  It's hard to believe it's been that span of time, but at the same time it feels like 9 years and then some.  I remember the sounds of their voices, their laughs, the lines (though they were few, Mom!) on their faces, freckles on arms, mannerisms, the tilt and sway of my Mom's head when she was 'peeved'.  A non-swearing Christian woman, 'lawsy' was the worst word she used.  (I don't believe I've ever heard that used since her).  My Dad and I had a special bond in that every so many years we got to celebrate special days together when my birthday and Father's Day occurred on the same date.  I always felt so special that day as well because I shared a day with my Dad none of my siblings did. 

It never ceases to amaze me that even now, maybe especially now, my parents are a tremendous influence on my life.  It comforts me to know that even though my Mom never knew my husband or children, that she prayed for them ahead of time, having prayed for my future mate and offspring.  My Dad handcrafted hope chests that my children use now and will hopefully hand down to their children one day.  Their love and commitment to our family and each other is still an example to me.  I talk about them often and laugh at the funny memories, their quirks, inside family jokes.  I love those memories so.  They are incredibly precious to me.  I'm blessed to have had such solid, fun, upstanding Christian parents.  Even though their parenting didn't always make sense then, I understand now as a parent myself what they were thinking.  They were constantly trying to protect me just as I am constantly protecting my children.  

I'm going to enjoy this birthday.  I'm always thankful for every birthday and wishing for many more.  I know the best and biggest birthday present is the gift of the birthday itself.  Thank you, Mom and Dad for making me feel loved and cared for, secure and special.  Happy Father's Day, Dad.  Thank you both for being awesome.  <3


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