We celebrated her ninetieth birthday last October 30, 2016. She is my mom. The picture is of Vera cutting her birthday cake. It was a glorious Florida day! The brilliant afternoon sun cast the perfect light rays on the shimmering water. The wind lightly batted the flags against their metal stanchions, gently shaking the tree leaves in the park, rippling the water’s surface on the Indian river, stirring the sound and laughter of family and friends loving and sharing with each other. It was a wonderful party!
Vera is from Ireland and still speaks with a brogue. She is a petite, powerful woman. She has beautiful blue eyes that have been inherited by children and grandchildren and great grandchildren. She has an interesting, personal life story that made her who she is and still drives her life to this day. Her career was nursing and it was a long one. She lives with her friend Tom. He is eighty nine years old.
What has she given me, instilled in me? What have I passed down of her to my own children? I will share this with you now and in no particular order.
She has given me place! It has crossed oceans and countries. I traveled, much as she did when she emigrated to America. I have lived in different places and experienced different people, languages, culture and identity and race. I am very proud of this because I enjoy the world and its people. They do not frighten me. I don’t think they ever did. It is just part of who I am because of her.
She has given me education! Her personal story did not include a lot of formal education. She placed great importance on education without suffocating me with it. I took my own path with its many twists and turns, formal and informal. My experiences with education were like hers, authentic and genuine. She gave me the sturdy foundation on which I built, explored and deepened my knowledge about many things. I tend to enjoy people who have similar intellects. They do not have to be degreed, accredited or lettered thinkers. I am a teacher and lifelong learner.
She has given me sun and warmth! She moved with my father to Miami before I was born and lived in the same house until just after he died.I was born in and grew up in Miami, Fl. It was a charmed childhood, not affluent, but innocent and free. I maneuvered around by myself at a very young age. I did not have to have watchers. I swam in the ocean and the pool. I rode my bike freely around our community and outside of it. I took the bus all over the city. I walked, ran, swam, jumped, danced, cycled, played tennis and more. I had a lot of friends. There lives were similar to mine, but I think I had a little more freedom to be mobile than they did. It created a deep sense of independence for me. Sun and warmth still make me feel the best ever!
She has given me strength! To be a great nurse requires a lot of strength, both physical and emotional and sensory control. I think my mom was a great nurse! I learned how to endure. I learned how to work. I learned how to have stamina and how to sustain myself. I learned how to value the most important things in my life: family, education, travel, experience and more recently connectedness. I learned how to have faith and hope and charity. I learned to be a good citizen.
She has given me courage! Vera had to demonstrate great courage to accomplish what she has in her life. She extended courage to others in her life. Family, friends and strangers alike. It takes courage to live everyday. The lows and highs of living are the norm for everyone. Life is immense joy and sorrow and everything in between. It is a matter of degree for each of us. I have not always handled myself in the best ways possible. Some people just seem to know what to do, how to handle life, how to successfully catch and throw the ball of life. This has been a challenge for me. The longer I live the more courageous I become. The more humility I demonstrate.
She has given me emotion! Now this is an understatement. Vera is a very emotional woman. Not always good, not always bad, but certainly a vortex of emotion. It overwhelmed me and confused me. It made me feel uneasy and unsure and often directionless. My emotions are very sensitive and I continue to under and overreact to stimuli, but I would not change it for the world because I have learned place, am educated, feel warmth, have strength, am courageous and I believe that I have passed on the best of these attributes to my children. So, I am content, happy and satisfied. Not always, but mostly.
For my mom, with love always and forever.