Happy Big Birthday, Mor!
I’m a lucky woman for many reasons and one of them is that mor is not just my mother, but my friend, too.
Which is not to say that her friendship has been more important than her mothering. In fact, I think she’s pretty much the perfect mother. Even when I was little, she encouraged me to think for myself and to be part of decisions as much as possible. I may not have always gotten what I wanted, but my opinion was always considered. This was really important as a child growing up with a chronic illness — a situation where a lot of control is taken away from you.
I don’t think she originally emphasized independence because of my RA, but I’m sure that enhanced her approach to parenting. My mother has always been a very independent person herself, approaching life with curiosity and no fear and encouraging Janne and myself to do the same. I grew up hearing stories of her childhood and her adventures. One of the quintessential mor stories is that time she climbed a radio tower and once she was really high, her foot slipped. She managed to grab hold of the tower again and eventually got down in one piece. As long as I can remember, that story hasn’t been about the almost-fall, it has been about the climb.
Because that’s my mother in a nutshell. Always seeking new experiences, new heights, new adventures and doing so with a spirit of optimism and positivity. One of these adventures was when she spent a year in England when she was about 20 years old, travelling around the country demonstrating Danish products in a folk dancing outfit. She looked hot. One of the smartest things my father ever did was ask her out in England. Later, he proposed to her and had to do it three times before she said yes. She wasn’t sure she wanted to get married.
Life hasn’t always been kind to my mother. In fact, it has been downright mean at times. She has had chronic back problems since her early 20s, along with a host of other physical problems. And yet, she’s kept going. Another quintessential story of my mother is about her recovery from a slipped disc surgery that left part of the left leg paralyzed. She still walked to the train station every morning to go to work.
Every time life has thrown a challenge to my mother, she has grasped it and found a way to live her life with it and around it. She was my anchor as a child growing up with a chronic illness. When I was 16, doctors suggested to her that I was better off in a group home. She politely told them what they could do with that suggestion and took me home, providing my care for the next 17 years, and never even once making me feel like a burden. More than that, she supported me in my education, helping me with the practical things that would otherwise have been a barrier. A year after I left home, my father got sick and then she took care of him.
My mother is a natural caregiver — she just knows what to do. She has a sixth sense for what people need and provides it, no matter what. She’s always said that she wanted to have enough children for a soccer team, but both my sister and I were both somewhat of a miracle baby. That didn’t stop mor from accumulating more children. She is “hygge mor” to so many of our friends, stepping up and stepping in when they needed help. I’m pretty sure that if you count them all, she did end up with a soccer team.
Nine years ago, one of her big wishes was granted when Janne made her a grandmother, a mormor. She was there when the Tinks were born and for almost a year, she travelled to Hamilton two or three times a week to help out with them. She’s got a special bond with the kids and absolutely adores them. The feeling is quite mutual.
For as long as I can remember, mor has been my best friend. We’ve talked about everything and nothing, we share books and watch reality shows together, calling each other in commercials to discuss what happened. We’ve gone for long car rides, the best way to connect it to sort through the day’s challenges. She’s the last person I talk to at night and often the first person I talk to in the morning. I feel completely safe with her and she knows me better than anyone. And I am privileged that she considers me a friend, as well, sharing her thoughts, feelings, and life with me.
Things have slowed down a bit for mor in the last several years. Life threw some more challenges her way, some really hard ones. She has persevered with her trademark good humour and grace, coping and finding a way to continue living her life. Her adventures are a bit smaller, but just as meaningful. And she continues to be an anchor and a best friend to us all.
Today is mor’s birthday and it’s a significant one. She is not fond of it, saying that 80 makes her sound old, but she is anything but. Sure, her body is reluctantly starting to show some wear and tear, but her mind is unchanged. She is joyful, funny, thoughtful, smart, kind, and generous. And she is one of my favourite people in this world.
All of this just scratches the surface. I have stories that could keep us here for hours, but there’s only so much praise the woman can take in one sitting. I’ll save the rest for the next birthday.
Please help us celebrate my mother today.
Tillykke med foedselsdagen, mor!