First of all, happy birthday! I guess today is as good a day as any to tell you how much I appreciate you. You have spent my entire life trying to teach me, but honestly, I learned most from the things you weren’t overtly explicating.
You are the strongest woman I know. I got my stoicism from you. I never quite learned how to block out all emotion, or never show I care, but I learned enough to protect myself. I have watched you my entire life, taking everything in stride. Nothing affected you. In a way I envy that, and maybe one day I will perfect the art of nonchalance.
You taught me how to build everything from nothing. You withheld from me when I was young, and as resentful as I may have been (and maybe still am once in a while), I learned to do everything for myself, never relying on anyone else. I am at a point in my life where I will have to build myself from nothing once more, and this time I have others depending on me, and because of the experience you have given me, I have quite a running start. I have learned from you how to pull things out of thin air, and in times of desperation, push just a bit further.
I have heard your stories, and I don’t know if I could do what you did, but I would like to think I could accomplish half. I have learned that much.
No matter what I did, you always wanted more from me, it was never good enough, and I think that was simply your way of motivating me, giving me impetus for achieving just a bit extra and never stagnating.
You even taught me the silly things, yet still important in their own right. I have your insane fashion sense, always ready for all occasions. I remember being about eight, and wanting to wear an outfit not far from pajamas. You asked me to change and I didn’t want me. You asked me to think about what would happen if plans change, if something spontaneous happens. What if I may think I am just running out for an errand and something comes up that demands I arrive somewhere formal? Then what? Wouldn’t I be embarrassed at the way I am dressed? That was the example you gave me and I never forgot. You will be glad to know I have never been embarrassed anywhere.
I cannot enumerate your many lessons, things learned directly, and indirectly watching you, inadvertently studying you and mimicking you as a child would do.
You have never lied to me, and taught me to be more honest than may be good for me. You praised my talents, and simultaneously reminded me of my shortcomings. Thank you for never deluding me into believing I am good at everything, or worse, at the very things I don’t have a calling for. Thank you for helping me develop those things at which I excel, even when you could not give me the answers, but guided me to find them elsewhere.
Now you have grandchildren who learn everything from you second hand through me. So far I cannot say I have taught them any great life lessons, but they see, and have probably gleaned more than I think.
Mom, from you I have learned patience, defiance, wit, charm, decadence, passion, stoicism, strength, and my own weaknesses.
I love you like I love my own children. When you had me you gave me life. Since then you have given me your life in pieces. Thank you for giving me everything, and teaching me how to find those things you could not give.