My mother, who died in spring of 1985. would have turned 92 today. Though her birthday is just 3 days before that of my sons (who will be 41 next Monday) and whom she got to meet when they were 4 yrs old I don’t always think about her on this day. She never got to meet my daughter, who is the 5th generation Esther in our family.
Longtime friends know i talk about my Dad more often because our relationship had some 'closure', Mom and i didn't. And to some extent I feel he had more to do with who I am. Though surely our parents can shape us by modeling behavior we choose to avoid as well as by behaviors we adopt. Some years her Birthday goes by without me consciously thinking about it till the boys' Birthday arrives, despite the fact that while she lived i more consistently sent her cards than vice versa...for all holidays not just her Birthday. Maybe I remembered this year because two days ago when we went in to the city my daughter and i talked, as we often do, a lot about family. My son, DIL and grandson will be here next Tuesday and we are excited about that. I often wish my parents could have met my grandson, Liam.
I had a more complex relationship with Mom than Dad. From earliest memory I recall feeling my mother needed protection from the world. She had a childlike quality that gave her an air of vulnerability. She was strong physically, and learned a lot from my Dad: To swim, fish, hunt (she was a crack shot, 10 for 10 everytime): She never lost that emotional vulnerability though.
When I think of her these days, if it’s not about a specific memory I picture her as she is in the photo below, perhaps my favorite of her. It was around 1957, she was a recently divorced (from Dad) single Mom working in an electronics factory (making the tubes that used to go in radios and TVs).
I say all this to suggest, if your parents are still living, unless they are patently toxic, make an effort to say the things you want to say to them NOW, both positive and negative things. Ask the questions you’ve had since childhood. Sometimes the answers can give us a new perspective on our history. If you have children or ever hope to you should be learning all you can about family history anyway—for the sake of those kids. DNA tests which are trendy now can tell you a lot of interesting things, but not why your parents fell in love, married, stayed together or split. Biology can’t explain why they prioritized the things they did when you were young. You need to talk to them to find out what kind of person they were when not being a parent. And finding that out can be healthy for you.