July 23 is our mother's birthday, and this year she would have been 89. Today marks the fifth July 23 we've observed without her.
Within a year or so after her death, my siblings and I found ourselves observing Mother's birthday in our own special little ways. Simple little things that had been synonymous with our mother - playing bridge, or lovingly baking a pie in a well-worn tin -- became an appropriate way to quietly observe the special day.
So while going to the fabric store is hardly an uncommon event for me, it's always different -- and very wonderful -- every July 23. This day is when I buy flannel for receiving blankets - the same kind my mother used to make -- that will go to babies who need them. I posted the instructions on how to make them here a few months ago.
It may be weeks or months before I actually get these simple little blankets sewn up and taken to the hospital, but for some reason it's been important to me to buy the flannel on my mother's birthday. So, once again - that's exactly what I did today. I took my time, picking out sweet prints and soft textures that I knew Mother would have loved. Then I came home and put it all through the washer and dryer so it'll be ready when the mood strikes.
So that's why I'm feeling warm and fuzzy this July 23. Not a day goes by that my sisters and brother and I don't miss both of our parents. But we're grateful that small things keep us close, that our parents' example is living on in new generations of the family, and that the memories make us smile.
And what would Mother say if she knew I were writing about her on a web log? She'd smile, hold her hands up in that "don't-even-bother-trying-to-explain-technology to me" gesture, and say, "Oh, you kids and that Internet!"
If there's a special birthday or anniversary in your own family, I hope you have a precious way to observe it, too.