My mom turned 88 years old last week.
I lost 20 bucks on that deal.
Not because I bet against her living – I’m pretty sure she’ll go to 100 – but because I bet my daughter that she was only 87.
My daughter, as always, was right.
Dorothy Beth Moore Wilkerson was born 88 years ago in Westminster, SC.
She came to Atlanta at 17 to live with her sister Kathleen.
She married my Dad at 21 and I know he was in love with her until the day he died.
When I was little, I thought she was the most glamorous, beautiful woman who ever lived.
She had dark hair and true green eyes that I see in my son now and when she wore red lipstick she looked like a movie star.
We had a fraught relationship.
She had a vision of what a daughter should be and I wouldn’t/couldn’t fulfill that vision.
I felt like every interaction we had was never a conversation but just a chance for her to try one more time to get her message across.
She felt divorce was morally wrong and told me she’d never support it and so I didn’t even tell her I got a divorce until a year later.
She thought women shouldn’t run and prayed to God that I would stop when I ran a marathon (for real).
She wrote me long letters that I threw away without opening.
I felt like she never tried to get to know me, that she just cared about trying to mold me. As she’s aged, though, she’s grown a little softer and it seems like she’s forgotten about all those goals. She’s genuinely grateful for my visits.
She’s excited to see me.
When I tell her something, she listens without judgment.
She’s always loved her grandchildren and they’ve always loved her.
As she’s gotten older, it seems like she’s able to show her love to everyone.
The mother I knew growing up always serious.
She was always on guard.
The mother I have now laughs at jokes (even if she doesn’t quite follow them).
She stuffs spicy cashews in her mouth when we tell her not to (even if she lives to regret it).
I loved the beautiful glamorous mother I had when I was young but I was a little afraid of her.
I resented the woman who tried to mold and control me.
I look at the relaxed, glowing woman I see now and I wish that woman had always been around.
She’s still so beautiful.
Happy Birthday, Beth. May you have many more.