09:30:24 pm on
Monday 06 Dec 2021

A Very Hard Day
AJ Robinson

She would have been ninety-six, my mother. The fifth of November was her birthday. She was born in 1925.

She worked the old routine, well.

Over the last decade we struggled with what to get her for her birthday. She always gave us the old, “Oh, I don’t need anything” song and dance. Honestly, she didn’t need anything.

My mom lived simply. She had more than enough money to take care of her needs and wants. Anything she needed or wanted she bought.

We had to get creative in gifts. More recently, we would get together and go out to dinner to celebrate. She enjoyed herself at these birthday dinners.

I remember her last birthday, well. As it was during the pandemic, it had to be a more subdued affair, just me and my brothers getting together with her. Afterwards, as we prepared to leave, I jokingly told her “It’s all downhill to a hundred now, Mom.”

Sadly, it was not to happen. Her birthday this year hurt more than I expected. My daughter Alexa made a point of calling me and we talked.

I told Alexa stories of my youth. That’s when Nona played a prominent role in my life. I mentioned my nephew Nick sent a picture of me in my cast, the summer I broke my wrist.

That led to me relating the whole story to her and most especially how Nona had taken such good care of me. Of course, she did, she was a mommy, and that’s what moms do. From there we moved to happier thoughts: our coming visit for Christmas and she asked about our family history.

When I told Alexa that her Grampa Robbie was born in Fitchburg and his dad in Pittsfield and then that his dad or grandfather was a deacon in a church not far from her home, she was totally enthralled. Seems we may have some trips to take while we’re up there visiting.

We lost a few family members.

Later came an exchange of emails with my remaining brothers. We spoke of not merely mom, but also Steve, as he had passed two days after her birthday a few years back. That led to talk of Greg and Dad, Aunt Marny and other. It seemed we’d lost quite a few family members in the last few years.

Such is life. I closed by reaffirming my love for them and expressing my hope that we’ll stay close. I have serious doubts of that happening. Yet, I can hope.

When we finally signed off, I sat back in my chair at my desk at home and thought back over the life my mom had led. Ninety-five plus years, almost a century, and just think of all that she experienced. She grew in the Great Depression; saw the rise of Mussolini in Italy, World War II, moving to a whole different country, a family of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

She travelled, widely. S divorced and married twice more. She knew heartache and poverty as well as great joy and financial security.

It was quite the life for a simple girl from the plains of Tuscany and most definitely a life well lived. So, although I wept on her birthday and wept quite a few times I might add, at the end of the day there was also great joy. I thought of some of our good times and when I did, I didn’t just smile.

A life well lived is to be celebrated.

No, I laughed long and hard, and the tears then were of joy. We shared some wonderful, glorious times, events that I would not trade for a mine of gold. Yes, most definitely a life well lived. Happy birthday, Mom.

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Working, again, as an engineeer, after years out of the field due to 2009 recession and slow recovery, Robinson finds time to write. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true. His teen vampire adventure novel, "Vampire Vendetta," will publish in 2020. Robinson continues to write books, screenplays and teleplays and keeps hoping for that big break.

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