Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Gift of "Lives"

As part of its slogan, The American Red Cross refers to blood as the gift that keeps on giving or the gift of life.  However you look at it, blood is ,without a doubt, a very critical element to the vitality of one's life.  Equally, when one looks at blood lines, often times you can get an idea of an individual's traits from those ancestral connections.  Well, for one aging woman, her gift of life was to give her children theirs; now that she is turning the page on yet another year, it's time to sing Happy Birthday once more.

Four score and fourteen years ago, my grandparents celebrated the birth of of their second child, my mother.  Unfortunately for them, they had to endure the heartache of losing their first, so when my mother arrived, the tragedy of one life was replaced by the joy of another then another and another and another and another, but because of that birth order, my mother had assumed certain responsibilities that only the "oldest" would bear.  She was an example to her brothers, first as student and later as a wife and mother.  When I asked one of my uncles what they called my mother when they were younger, he said, "hey you'!  I believe that her childhood and later her education as a "Bacteriologist" prepared her well for the role of mother to 8 children.

As yet another year has elapsed, and for my mother, that number is now 94, all I can say is thank you and Happy Birthday.  She has unselfishly given of herself to others, both family and friends.  The gift of life may be blood, but for my mother, she has given the gift of "lives", ours, to my brothers, sisters, and me.  We love you, and we all wish you Happy Birthday Mom/Grandma/Great grandma!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Always just a bit older but a whole lot wiser

Most of us are quite familiar with the expression, "older and wiser".  The implication is that we become wiser as a result of life's experiences, but that of course, assumes that we learn from our mistakes.  However, some people are simply born older, so they seem to possess wisdom that you'd generally expect only from an older individual.  Well, I have a friend who is both, so allow me to share the story.

Our paths first crossed many years ago when we were students in high school.  I sat behind her in World History class.  The teacher had a rather interesting way of reporting our test scores.  He had assigned each of us a letter, and he'd read off the grades to the whole class using this alphabetical code.  Well, after a while you could figure out who was who, and it didn't take me long to realize that she typically had one of the highest grades in the class.  Meanwhile, I was still struggling with the difference between "Plato and "Play doh", although if I recall correctly, wasn't one of them some ancient Greek guy?

During the summer, we also enjoyed the annual camping trip to the White Mountains to climb Mt. Washington with the local CYO.  Instead of walking down the trail on one of those "beautifully", rainy , cold summer days, we opted to walk down the auto road, hoping to lessen the burden of the descent.  Using that valuable bit of experience from the past, the Cog Railway became a very wise choice for a descent down from the storied mountain on a recent return trip to the summit.

Of course, since those days of our youth, much has happened to both of us.   However, despite life's ups and downs, the strength of her character has remained.  Perhaps that is why she chose a career of helping those who couldn't always find their own way, without that gentle hand to guide them.  Yes, there is little doubt about her wisdom, but since our respective birthdays are just a day apart, I'm afraid that she'll always be a bit older too.  Happy Birthday CJB!