Alice Elizabeth Adelman Lowenstein, my mother, turns 73 years old today.
The past year has been a tough one for Mom. She’s contended with heart problems that hospitalized her for much of March, April and May and led to her ultimately having a surgical procedure to install a pacemaker. More recently, she’s had to grapple with substantial pain in her right hip that has made it much more difficult to walk.
I feel fortunate that my brothers Mike and Jon have been able to spend weeks with Mom, advocating for her at the hospital and encouraging her after each of her returns home, and, of course, grateful for her recovery and increasing strength.
It took a while, but Mom has gradually steadied the health ship and even gotten her fighting spirit toward the medical establishment back (One of the scariest moments for me was when she could not choose whether she wanted to sit in a chair or lie down on the bed.).
Mom’s illness has been one of a number of blows we’ve sustained as a family this year, starting with Marty’s decline and death, continuing with Dunreith’s car accident, moving through with Mom’s medical problems and, hopefully, ending with Diane’s death four short weeks ago.
While I feel relatively certain that I have not yet processed all of the trauma and pain associated with each of these events as well as their cumulative effect, I do know that, on the whole, the past seven months have made me more aware, painfully at times, of life’s fragility.
Bill Clinton wrote upon turning 50 that he understood he had more yesterdays than tomorrows.
In keeping with that thought and with the lessons of the past few months, I try to savor life’s small pleasures as well as to not cram so many activities into the day that I have no time to breathe or reflect.
This quality of mindfulness and of paying attention to one’s breathing is one of the many lessons Mom has taught my brothers and me.
Having the courage to shift and abandon previous directions is another.
Learning how to use language to name your experiences is a third.
You get the idea.
So, on this day, I celebrate and salute Mom, a woman of determination and wisdom. May she live for many years to come.
Happy Birthday, Mom!