My never-drinking mother, toasting with a plastic cup of champagne.
My never-drinking mother, toasting with a plastic cup of champagne.

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A writer friend was staying with me this week and we talked about exposure.  About how (especially with memoir) you have to decide how much of yourself you can bear to put up for public consumption.  That whatever your choice, the final decision comes down to one thing:  You have to be willing to stand by your book — your story — over the long haul, and within that comes one question:  What is your threshold?

My birthday is one month after my mother’s.  Every year she would say, “I feel fine on my birthday, but then yours comes and I feel so old!”  Which may not have been, since I was due to be born BEFORE  her big day, on the 4th of July, and arrived a whole month later.

Tomorrow would have been my mother’s 69th birthday.

For the longest time, I have fought to remember my mother as she wanted to remember herself.  Young.  Vibrant.  Sexy.  Thin.  Capable.  Strong.  Sassy as all hell.  But this year, for the first time, I choose to remember her as I want to:  in that last year.  About six months before she died, the whole family got together at her house for a barbecue.  We drank champagne, of all things.  We laughed openly.

This birthday, I miss my mother’s sassiness.  The way she held her ground.  I miss her giant laugh.  Her irony, and her look on life.  Here’s to you, Mom.  Here’s to the real you, the fully exposed you.  You are beautiful in all your exposed self.  And you are missed.

Mom thoughtful at BBQ August 2001

 

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