Today would have been my mother’s 75th birthday. As one of those landmark birthdays we figured on having some sort of party to mark the event. That was not meant to be, but in reflecting on the woulda, shoulda, coulda’s of life, the mother of my imagination would surely have been a spry warrior with an undiminished twinkle leading everyone in song at her birthday bash. She’d also have been happier, healthier and more certain of herself at the pivotal decision points in her life when making choices that made sense counted for something.
All of us have those moments where the fork in the road leads left or right. Sometimes we don’t choose per se, but rather stay stationary in the hopes that the wind (“fate”) will nudge us along in one direction or another. Generally we make the choice that feels best at the moment and it turns out to be the “right” choice. Sometimes we don’t. Whether those decisions impact us positively or negatively they ultimately lead us on to more choices, more decisions and so on.
Our lives are thus a series of these points on the line. And the decisions are ones we live with for good or for ill. Strength of character, faith and moxy carry us through the tough ones plus a lot of humor — something my mother had an abundance of. It did not, however, stop her from smoking, a decision point that lead to lung cancer and from our point of view her death, way too soon.
Having smoked myself, I feel as if I’ve played roulette with a wheel of awful outcomes. My hope of course is that I quit soon enough, and having had a family later in life, that the decision to quit (albeit late in “pack years”) will not mean that I’ve robbed my daughter of her mother too soon. In my case — I had my mother for a long time; in my daughter’s case she’d still be awfully young.
As decisions go, quitting smoking was a great one; as is exercising, keeping your weight trim enough not to cause health problems and as my favorite internist espouses, playing the numbers game meaning getting annual physicals, taking the big tests at the scheduled times and doing *everything* in moderation, including in his mind exercise.
My own health scare 14 years ago is what brought me to boxing in the first place — a decision I cherish even as I struggle to keep it as a part of my daily life. The point is to be mindful of how things go and not to be afraid of the decisions that will ultimately have deep and perhaps painful effects.
As a women in her fifties I’m mindful of mortality and time in ways I never, ever imagined. Coupled with losing my mother this year, I’m cognizant of how one can go along and forget that life really is short. In that vein, I shall toast my mother with my daily something, a good cry and the biggest smile I can muster to greet the day.
Happy birthday Mom, you were one in a million.