Snowy Owl Woman, aka my mother, Joy, turned 79 this past weekend and it was quite the celebration. None of us expected that she’d see another birthday, let alone two, when she was sent into hospice in November 2017 by clueless hospital doctors who said she’d be gone within days from an infection of sepsis.
I trusted my instincts then and called “BS” on their diagnosis, and I trusted my instincts last weekend too, giving my mom a pink-and-white manicure topped with miniature “stick on” cupcakes, then bringing her an iced latte with a “splash” of something extra and a bag full of her favorite homemade molasses-ginger cookies.
What a time we’ve had these past 629 unexpected “extra” days! Although living in a care center isn’t ideal, my mother tells me “it’ll do.” She spends a lot of time reading and thinking between visits from me and my sister, who take turns dropping by six days a week.
On Sunday, my family and my sister’s family were joined at the care center by a favorite aunt and uncle, who stopped by to spend the afternoon with our mom. As we sat around her bed to catch up and laugh over old family stories, I couldn’t help flash on past birthday celebrations under the stars with a campfire blazing as my mom and her sister regaled us with hilarious stories about the Lamoreaux clan.
Briefly closing my eyes, it wasn’t difficult to imagine that we were back at my mom’s old digs, with grandkids squealing and racing in and out of her rustic sheep wagon while the rest of us hung out with our wine and coffee around the bonfire. When I opened my eyes and saw how happy my mother was on her birthday, it occurred to me that the setting didn’t actually matter. The important thing was that the love was still there.
My aunt, a true storyteller in grand Lamoreaux fashion, had us all in stitches over a story she’d heard at a funeral. Her deceased friend was actually lucky to live as long as he did, she said, because he once drove for hours with a propane stove burning in the back of his pickup, RIGHT NEXT TO THE GAS TANK. Knowing that his famous scalloped potatoes couldn’t be cooked at home in time for a Boy Scout dinner, he tossed everything in the back of his truck, set fire to the burners and away he went.
Of course, that tale led to a repeat of the famous family reunion story from the mid-1970s about my grandfather’s uncooked goose flying out of a large metal pan that was strapped to his car roof. The trussed-up bird (intended for our family dinner) landed with a splat on my mother’s windshield as she followed my grandpa’s car up the mountain, and we’ve been laughing about it ever since.
”I’ve always felt lucky to have such an unusual and independent family,” my mom said before we kissed her goodbye that afternoon. “I wouldn’t change a thing.”
Neither would we.
Here’s to your next unexpected year, mother dear. Long may our family “freak flag” wave. ♥️