Today’s a special day.
It would have been my mum’s seventy-fifth birthday.
In early spring, before things took a turn for the worse, Mama had been talking about having a big bash for her 75th. But as it happens, she is gone and her loved ones are scattered around the planet. My father is in transit to Europe, my brother is in Jordan, my sisters are all in different cities across Canada, and I am mid-move (next post: new house tour!). Her friends are also widely dispersed – Montreal, Toronto, Pennsylvania, England.
So I thought I would offer up this space as a make-shift gathering place. I can’t say I really believe she would approve of a birthday party on a blog, but it’s all I’ve got. I wish I had more photos to post, but all my albums are in boxes somewhere. Here is one of my mother, Gabriel (centre), with her sister Jane (left) and her mother Betty (right), a long time ago in Monte Carlo. It surfaced in the summer when we were looking at lots of old photos, and it is so unlike any other photo I have of her I took a snap of it on my phone and carry it around with me.
My mum did birthdays exceptionally well. She wrote personalized poems, stacked up gifts wrapped with ribbon and minimal tape (to make re-using the wrapping paper extra easy), made your favourite meal and baked a cake. If you lived far away she always got a card to you on time. And yet, when it came to her birthdays, she never wanted much fuss in her honour. Birthday requests usually amounted to “a few new pens” and “no more books!” (which we almost always disobeyed).
I hope you all find some small way to celebrate Gabriel’s life today. Buy yourself a new pen. Give the cryptic crossword a go. Read some poetry. Smoke a Players Filter. (Just kidding on that last one of course.)
Happy 75th Birthday Mama. We sure do miss you.