Today would have been my grandmother’s 88th birthday. It is my 41st. Birthdays are bittersweet for me now. This is my second year celebrating without her. I love sharing my birthday with Noni. I wish I could say I was more like Noni, but I’m not. I share her strong work ethic, but I believe that is where the similarity ended. Noni was the kindest person I knew. She was genuinely nice to everyone she met even those who weren’t so nice to her. Noni was happy all the time and I truly mean all the time.
As a teen I decided I wanted to do some volunteer work at the hospital where she worked. She worked in the colonoscopy department and was responsible for cleaning the equipment. This is not a job most would envy, but Noni did it with great pride. I began my job as a volunteer, but I’m not sure I ever did more than accompany my grandmother around the hospital. She knew everyone and everyone loved her. As we walked down the corridors all you would hear were voices saying, “Hi Mary! Hey Mary! Mary I’ll meet you for lunch. Mary!!”
Noni never had a bad word for anyone and she was a master of forgiveness. She was devoted to the Catholic church, her family and her work. She worked until about a year and a half before she passed away at the age of 86. She was a lunch room and recess monitor at a nearby elementary school. All the children called her Grandma. After she died my mom and my aunt set up a fund to be donated to the school. This spring the school dedicated a colorfully painted outdoor shed to Noni, calling it Grandma’s shed where they store outdoor play equipment.
She left her mark wherever she went. She was graceful and quiet about it though. Her path of kindness was genuine and unforced. She had the patience and tolerance of a saint. She truly loved her life despite some of the bumpy roads she endured. I have always felt as though I was one of those bumpy paths in her life. I wasn’t an easy person to be around for many years. I don’t have her kindhearted spirit. My years of angst and frustration made me quite the opposite. I was very impatient often times with Noni. My sharp tongue still gets me into trouble from time to time, but not nearly as bad as it was in my younger years.
Despite my imperfections Noni loved me. She was honest with me and didn’t really let me get away with my bad attitude. I adored her and wished more than anything I had inherited her personality along with her birthday. How could two people from the same genes, born on the same day be so different?
This birthday is quiet. The age doesn’t bother me. I’m just in a reflective place right now. I need to decompress after the busy summer. This summer was a whirlwind of activity and as much as we played I also worked that much too. I’ve done overtime every week except the two weeks I was away. My husband is also working like crazy. For him it’s feast or famine so he has to take the hours when he can because the winter layoffs have been consistent and long lately. This nonstop schedule left little time for anything else including running, yoga and meditation. I did what I could when I could fit it in, but I also reached a point where I just said ENOUGH, I’m one person doing the job of many. I decided to just focus on Carlos, keeping up the house and my basic needs.
It is fitting that Carlos started second grade today. He is growing up so fast. I will never regret the choices I made this summer even if I lost track of me for a little while. I kept as close of a grip as I could, but I slipped backwards a bit and have some pieces to pick up now…and I will pick up the pieces. This morning I dropped Carlos off at his new school, more on that in another post. I went for a 40 minute run and then straight to Vinyasa yoga which I’ve missed so much. I’m pretty sure I was out like a light and snoring during savasana! I feel like I’m starting all over again with fitness, but I’m excited to get back into the groove. For my birthday today I am taking the hours while Carlos is in school to focus solely on me. I’m taking lots of deep breaths and silently giving thanks for all the wonderful people in my life, for my health and for the health of those I love most.
I am thinking a lot about Noni today. I hope she knows how hard I continue to work to become a better person, to become more like her. I couldn’t have asked to be born on a better day. This will always be OUR birthday. Happy Birthday Noni!
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” Bernard M. Baruch