Today is my mother's birthday. She would have been 50 years old today. That number makes her death feel remarkably unfair, but today isn't about feeling sad. On her birthday, I like to do something to celebrate and remember her, something that usually involves baking. You'll see why.
My mom was and will always be the coolest, smartest lady I know. She taught me many things. Like most moms, she was always doling out informational tidbits about life, the universe, everything. Here are some of her bigger lessons.
1. Clean While You Cook
My mom was a tidy lady. Our house was never messy or even cluttered. Things had their place and that's where they stayed. This ideal of cleanliness has absolutely carried over to me; I don't even like to sleep in a messy bedroom.
Most people don't think to wash dishes or put things away while they're cooking, they just focus focus focus on whatever they're doing. Boiling water boiling water boiling water. My mom would make me wash pans while water boiled, and she would clean the counters. Dough's rising? Let's put some dishes away.
2. It's Never Too Late
My mom did everything late. That's not to say that she was late all the time, she just never quite got around to things until they were easier to get to. She got her driver's license when she was 18, she graduated from college in her early 30's, she came out in her mid 30's, and she never let her illness run her life. There was always more time, there was always another opportunity, it was never too late to do the things she wanted to do and to make her life happier. She had had a stroke and was in a wheelchair and was planning to get another tattoo.
Even in death she seemed to make herself known, as if it wasn't too late even then to show me she loved me. But that's another story entirely.
3. Eat Cheesecake, Eat Pizza
Before her last operation, my mom seemed to know she wasn't going to make it out. They told her is was risky, but it was do it and probably die or do nothing and definitely die, and my mom was the kind of gal who grabbed the bull by the fucking horns, a woman of action, so she chose action.
I remember two conversations we had in the late summer before she passed. One, she called me up and told me about a pizza she'd ordered. She decided she wanted a pizza and she just ordered one all for herself, and she got everything she wanted on it so that she wouldn't have to share.
The second was closer to her surgery, and I actually think this was the last time I heard her lucid. She felt this was her last chance to say anything to me, and she had to make it relevant. Powerful. Something I would carry with me for the rest of my life. And she nailed it. She told me, "Eat cheesecake."