This is how she looked when she met my father.
This is how she looked when she lived in Tucson.
I never knew the first woman.
I enjoyed meeting the second woman,
the one whose memory was failing but who always knew that I loved her.
Some things never changed.
There was always a straw in her Diet Sprite.
Her purse was always over her shoulder (see blue strap, above).
She was cold, but never wore a hat - "I don't look good in hats!"
There were some things she never forgot.
Good grammar was imperative and bad grammar demanded correction
Yellow was her favorite color and chocolate was her favorite food.
Wrinkles and sagging hems were unacceptable; she made her opinions known even when she was no longer in charge of choosing the outfits herself.
Today would have been her 93rd birthday.
I'd have brought her a prune danish for breakfast, accompanied by a gardenia corsage on the tray.
I'd have taken her out for a tuna-and-tomato-on-toast for lunch.
We'd have shared shrimp for dinner.
We would certainly have stopped for some chocolate ice cream along the way.
By the end, there were no books to share nor Scrabble to play.
There was her shell and her soul and the connection between the two became more tenuous with every passing day.
But now, on her birthday, I remember the smiles and the advice and the kisses.
Oh, the kisses.
She had the softest skin to receive my love.
I'm kissing the air right now, sending the love out into the ether.
Wherever she is, I know she's feeling it.
She's my mom.
We're attached, forever.
Happy Birthday, Mommy!
I hope that there is chocolate in heaven.