Today would have been my mom’s 66th birthday. She died from breast cancer almost fifteen years ago, but I still think about her quite a bit.
This purpose of this post isn’t to elicit your sympathy or to process my grief, but to honor my mom and to reflect on what she continues to mean to me.
Without her, I would not be who I am. This is not merely true genetically, but in almost every other way I can think of. For instance, my mom constantly emphasized the value of reading and education to me and to my sister even though we were economically hovering near the bottom of lower middle class through much of my childhood (where, statistically speaking at least, such things tend to be less emphasized).
My mom was always reading something, usually mysteries. The closest to science fiction she got were those Jane M. Auel books or Arnold Schwarzenegger movies (although there her interest was perhaps more in Arnie than anything else). While other people claim their hobbies are hiking or sports or whatever makes them sound more interesting, I say my main hobby is reading. Maybe this doesn’t sound interesting to some people, but another thing I learned from my mom was to accept myself for who I am. Besides, books are cool!
My mom had Bachelor’s degree in sociology that she always valued even though she worked in business rather than sociology. In fifth grade, I discovered that I really liked school (I’ve never really left school since). Even before that, my mom was always very supportive of my educational aspirations. She continued to support me when it came to going to a private college, majoring in philosophy of all things, and going on a study abroad trip to India. My mom always told me that I probably wouldn’t make a lot of money and that my student loan payments would be like having a nice car payment without the nice car, but that I would always be happy. She turned out to be right about all of that (of course, she was always right, you just had to ask her!). I think I was the first person in my family to pursue a graduate degree (my sister later earned a Master's in Library and Information Science). Even though harsh job markets make me wary to recommend graduate school in the humanities to everyone, I am glad things have turned out as they have for me.
I miss my mom incredibly, but I am thankful that she was who she was so I could be who I am. Her birthday also gives me an excuse to get what she called a “daily recommended dose of Dairy Queen.” So, if you'll excuse me, there’s a hot fudge malt somewhere with my name on it.
Who has contributed to making you who you are?