Alex turned 50 last week and OH! the memories.
That night years ago when I held you in my arms as we swayed back and forth in the rocking chair in your pink and white nursery. You fussed and squirmed, whimpering from a high fever brought on by a small pox vaccine. The longest night of my life, or so I thought then.
The afternoon you were playing at Helen’s house right around the corner, determined to have fun despite a bandaged and broken index finger. When you cartwheeled in her back yard, your arm gave way and broke in two places, followed by weeks in a hard cast. The longest six weeks of my life, I thought then.
The morning your new orthodontist fitted you with metal headgear to supplement and augment a mouthful of braces. (You always sucked your thumb while holding “Mr. Yellow,” your special blanket. I still have a shred of Mr. Yellow somewhere in the attic, tucked in a small white box.)
“Kids will tease me when they see this thing on my face,” you moaned, begging me to let you stay home from school for the rest of the day. Of course I insisted you go, and felt guilty until you walked in the back door at 3 PM and said, “Guess what! Richard Eaton said he likes my new ‘smile.’”
That green plaid taffeta dress trimmed with red velvet you wore to Mrs. Thompson’s Ballroom Dancing Class one December afternoon. Carpooling to the event, I overheard you talking with friends in the back seat about “cute Andy Davies.” I imagined him asking you to dance. Later you told me he asked two other girls, not you. It took ME months to get over that.
Going to Girl Scout camp and winning the “under-water banana-eating contest.” Hiking to the top of Mount Washington at 12, flying to Wyoming all by yourself at 14 to ride horses at summer camp in the Tetons, bungee jumping in Australia during a junior year semester abroad — you were fearless!
On the morning of your wedding, you walked downstairs carrying a small suitcase. “I’m all packed,” you said. I realized then that you were truly leaving home — not for summer camp or college, or a trip to France, but for the rest of your life. You were ready, I wasn’t quite there yet.
I’d always been central in your life — through sickness and sadness, high times and hard times, college decisions and china selections. It took a few years but I came to understand and accept that our roles had changed.
Today you are the nurse when I recover from back surgery and breast cancer. You are the one who says, “Mom, I’ll drive” when we head off to basketball games, marching band concerts and family reunions. You are the one who calms my fears and offers sage advice as I head towards my eighth decade.
At 50, you are a loyal wife, a passionate and fierce mother of two, a devoted sister, niece, cousin and friend. You are also the best daughter a mom could have.