I posted a “happy birthday” message this morning on my mother’s FaceBook wall. I searched my various photo albums to find a picture of the two of us to accompany the post, but I immediately was drawn to an old black and white photo of her with my siblings and me. So I posted that picture instead. “After all,” I thought, “it’s Thursday. If I’m highlighting the day, I might as well pay homage to #TBT ‘Throw Back Thursday’ too.”
The old photograph conjured up warm and fuzzy memories. It was taken in 1971 for the passport required for our move to Israel. I was going on ten; Wendy, nine; Craig, seven; and Randi was two-and-a-half. And, as I stared into our young faces, I was amazed by the striking resemblances to our own now grown children. I truly felt like Kellie, Elad, Jared and Brandon (with long hair!) were looking back at me. I couldn’t help but smile.
But, as I looked at Mom, my throat tightened and my eyes welled. She was so young and pretty (and blonde) then; barely thirty-one and excited about the adventure ahead. Our time in Israel, however, ended up difficult for her. The distance from her parents, the challenges that come with raising four children, the language barrier, her demanding full-time job, the radically different way of life, and the stress of the Yom Kippur war in 1973 all took a toll on her. So much so that she became the driving force behind our move back to the States. It was a decision that hurt me deeply at the time, but I now know — and truly understand — it was one she had to make for her own sanity.
It’s been over forty-six years since that picture was taken. Although Mom is now seventy-seven, I still see the thirty-one-year-old self in her. She still worries and cares about her parents, her husband, her kids, her grandchildren, and her friends the way she always did. She still likes new adventures (cautiously), loves to dance, has to be busy doing something, and loves to laugh until she cries. She’s as beautiful — in and out — now as then.
It’s time to board the plane. I’m on my way to Florida, Mom. I can’t wait to see you this weekend. Happy birthday and I love you.